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ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREP EXTRA | EMPIRE
LEAGUE

Cypress' Crooks Helps Sink Katella

November 07, 1998|STEVE KRESAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cypress, combining the option with play-action, was too much for Katella to handle and the Centurions won, 43-21, in an Empire League game Friday at Western High.

Quarterback Jeff Crooks made it all work with his best game of the season as he was 10 of 16 for 240 yards passing with three touchdowns and rushed for 74 yards and another touchdown.

"A big part of [our offense] is what Jeff does," Cypress Coach Kerry Crabb said, "I believe when he is on, you can't stop us."

Cypress led, 17-14, at the half then scored on four of its first five possessions in the second half to pull away.

The victory moves Cypress (5-4, 3-1) into a first-place tie with El Dorado and the teams meet Thursday at Valencia High to decide the championship in the final regular-season game. Cypress will be going for its first league football title since 1978.

Katella is 6-2-1, 2-1-1, and finished against Kennedy.

"We're where we want to be," Cypress Coach Crabb said. "We're playing for a league title and would like nothing more than to put our names on that banner."

Crooks scored the first Cypress touchdown of the second half on a two-yard run with 8 minutes 35 seconds left in the third quarter.

Cypress' next score came one play after Richard Herrera returned a punt 17 yards to the Katella 24. After a five-yard penalty, Crooks passed 29 yards to Herrera for a touchdown and a 29-14 lead with 1:16 left in the quarter.

It was the second scoring pass for Herrera, who made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone from 13 yards out to give Cypress a 14-7 second-quarter lead. Herrera finished with five catches for 98 yards.

Crooks capped Cypress' scoring with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Brent Avila midway in the fourth quarter. Crooks has throw for 1,690 yards, which is a Cypress single-season record.

Things didn't start out nearly so well for Cypress as Katella's Chris Walters took the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. But the Centurions came back on the next possession, going 70 yards in nine plays with the touchdown coming on a one-yard leap by Darrin Shorter who finished with 62 yards in 21 carries.

"We just wanted to come back and stuff it right down their throats," Crooks said. "This was a great team victory."

Justin Jones led Cypress with 131 yards in 12 carries.

Katella's Francis Johnson finished with 85 yards in 15 carries over the final three quarters. He sat out the first quarter as a part of a punishment for violating team rules.

In another Empire League game:

El Dorado 24, Loara 10--Mitch Nord completed 10 of 16 passes for 230 yards and one touchdown to lead El Dorado (6-3, 3-1). With the victory the Golden Hawks move into a first-place tie in league with Cypress.

Brian Zurhellen made a 29-yard field goal in the first quarter. On El Dorado's next drive, Nord hit Bryce Nebeker with a 33-yard touchdown pass. Nick Zehner capped the first-quarter scoring with a five-yard run.

Rudy Acosta got Loara (3-5-1, 0-3-1) on the scoreboard with a 75-yard kickoff return at the end of the first quarter. Juan Cuellar made it 17-10 with a 32-yard, third-quarter field goal, before Nord put the game away with a seven-yard touchdown run.

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