Santa Ana football coaches have spent the week telling their players that today's Mission Conference Central Division game against Palomar is a "championship-type game."
Despite Santa Ana's 2-5 record, they aren't lying.
Both teams are 2-0 in the division, but that's where the comparison ends. Palomar is 6-1 overall and ranked ninth in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire. The game starts at 1:30 today at San Marcos High.
"It's kind of for the championship or at least whoever wins it will be on the best [path] to it," Santa Ana Coach Dave Ogas said.
The Dons are on a two-game winning streak that includes a goal-line stop in the final minute against Saddleback last week. "You could not get a piece of paper between the ball and the goal line," Ogas said, "That's how close they were to scoring."
Santa Ana's sophomores also have positive memories of last year's game against Palomar. The Dons began an eight-game winning streak when quarterback Archie Lappin threw three touchdown passes and rushed for two more in a 38-21 victory.
Lappin's sophomore season hasn't been as solid, but he has passed for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns.
Palomar relies on sophomore quarterback Tony Alvarez, who has passed for a conference-best 1,888 yards and 24 touchdowns. Running back Joe Hall has rushed for a conference-best 1,001 yards.
In Central Division games:
Golden West (0-7, 0-2) is at Riverside (1-6, 0-2) and Fullerton (2-5, 1-1) is at Saddleback (1-6, 1-1). Both start at 7 p.m.
Orange Coast (3-4, 0-2) is at Long Beach (7-0, 2-0) in a 7 p.m. Northern Division game.