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Santa Margarita wins third consecutive large-school title; Rosary/Servite takes small-school crown for second year in a row.


Certain to add support for those who favor the creation of an all-parochial league, Santa Margarita and Servite/Rosary have repeated as large- and small-school division champions in the 1997-98 Times Orange County All-Sports Award competition.

The Eagles won the large-school title for the third consecutive time with 204 points.

Rosary, an all-girls' school, and Servite, an all-boys' school, combined to win their second consecutive small-school title, making it a clean sweep for county parochial schools. Servite/Rosary tallied 144 points.

Calvary Chapel, another private school, tied for second with Corona del Mar in the small-school division with 116 points.

Brea Olinda (154 points), was the top public school in the large-school division, finishing second overall.

The Wildcats added boys' volleyball this spring.

They also fielded gymnastics. But not badminton, which is a double-whammy in the all-sports scoring, according to Ron Hampton, Brea boys' athletic director.

"It would be nice to have those points," he said.

The Wildcats may have put themselves behind the eight ball anyway in the fall by netting a goose egg in girls' volleyball.

Brea, second in the small-school division in 1996-97, was followed this year by Mission Viejo (140), which finished eighth last year.

It was a boon year for private schools overall.

The county's other Catholic school, Mater Dei, which fielded outstanding teams in some of the higher profile sports, finished a strong fourth among large schools, two spots better than a year ago. The Monarchs, who won the award in 1994-95, scored 132 points.

Orange Lutheran (80 points) and St. Margaret's (72 points) finished ninth and 11th respectively in the small school division.

"I'm sure this will add oxygen to the fire that is already going on in the county," Brea Olinda boys' Athletic Director Ron Hampton said. "Other schools are already working on getting the parochial schools out of [public school] athletics."

Calvary Chapel, Orange Lutheran and St. Margaret's compete in private leagues. But Santa Margarita competes with five public schools in the Sea View League, Servite/Rosary plays with five public schools in the Golden West League and Mater Dei plays with five public schools in the South Coast League.

Santa Margarita Athletic Director Richard Schaaf cautioned not to read too much into the fact that his school has dominated The Times' award for the past several years.

"I'm sure that if you started this award 15 years ago you would see the Woodbridges, Capo Valleys and Irvines of the world having the top spot for several years," he said. "It goes in cycles."

Santa Margarita opened in the fall of 1987.

"This senior class we had was outstanding as sophomores," Schaaf said. "That's one reason why we won it three years in a row. After graduation we will be like a normal high school. We will go down in performance next year."

The All-Sports award is designed to identify and reward schools that have the county's most successful and balanced athletic programs. Under this year's revised scoring system, schools earn points for team Southern Section playoff participation and performance. Thus, gymnastics and field hockey programs don't earn points because they do not have Southern Section-sanctioned playoffs, but badminton programs do.

Under the scoring format, 20 points are awarded for winning a section title, 16 for finishing as runner-up, 12 for reaching the semifinals, eight for reaching the quarterfinals and four for simply qualifying for the playoffs.

The winning school among large schools (1,300 students and above for grades 10-12) and small schools (below 1,300) receives a traveling trophy to display for one year, a trophy to keep and a banner to hang in its gym.

Rosary Athletic Director Juleen Wise said she is just as excited about the repeat performance as she was about winning the first time.

"We have a lot of teamwork here," Wise said. "We're committed to make Rosary a special place. We all work together--coaches, athletes, teachers and the administration--and that adds up to a win-win situation."

She said she would leave it up to others to speculate on what the results mean.

"I've learned that people will say what they want to say," Wise said.

Other accomplishments of note:

* Newport Harbor beat Santa Margarita to win the Sea View League boys' volleyball title, but wound up fifth overall among large schools in part because its favored boys' volleyball team faltered in the Division I semifinals.

* Sixth-place Marina (124 points) celebrated its 33rd birthday with the best overall performance in school history, thanks to a strong showing by its girls' teams.

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