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ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREP EXTRA | SEA
VIEW LEAGUE

For Woodbridge, Turnaround Is Complete

November 14, 1998|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The prevailing adjective Friday night used by Woodbridge football players and coaches was "great."

As in great feeling, great victory and great effort.

It was also a great testament to the Warriors, who two years ago were completing a string of 25 games without a victory.

Putting its ghosts behind it for good, fourth-ranked Woodbridge won a share of the the Sea View League title with an unbeaten season, scoring a 20-12 victory over ninth-ranked Santa Margarita at Saddleback College.

It's Woodbridge's first varsity victory over the Eagles. The Warriors finished 9-0-1, 4-0-1 in league, to claim their first title since 1989, when they were in the Pacific Coast League.

Santa Margarita (7-3, 3-2) was the two-time defending league and Southern Section champion.

"We still felt we needed to prove ourselves by beating Santa Margarita," said quarterback Scott Barlow, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. "We achieved all our goals tonight. Now, we just have to worry about winning a [Southern Section] championship."

Woodbridge last won a section title in 1987 under Coach Rick Gibson. He said Friday's victory was one of the three best in his career "because of where we've been."

Since that winless streak, Woodbridge is 17-2-3.

A coin flip late Friday decided Woodbridge, ranked No. 1 in the Division VI poll, would go into the playoffs as the Sea View League's No. 1 entry over Irvine, ranked No. 2.

"We set this as a goal at the beginning of the season--we pointed to this game," Gibson said. "We said, 'If we win this game, we'll be Sea View League champions.' "

They did it in impressive fashion, taking a 17-0 lead before Santa Margarita scored at the end of the first half.

Turnovers were the difference. Typical of Woodbridge's style, they played tough defense--opponents had averaged only 10.5 points against them--and showed an opportunistic offense.

Woodbridge converted three of Santa Margarita's four turnovers into 13 points. The fourth, Ryan Rommelfanger's interception, ended Santa Margarita's comeback attempt with 24 seconds remaining.

Santa Margarita, which got a 43-yard scoring pass from Greg Orlando to Trent Zinn in the first half (the point-after attempt was blocked), put together a 63-yard drive in the fourth quarter as Spencer McCroskey scored from three yards. A two-point conversion failed when a pass was knocked away.

That brought the Eagles to within 17-12, but Eric Jenson's interception at the Santa Margarita 33 set up Steve Terwiske's second field goal, a 44-yarder with 1:13 remaining.

"When you turn the ball over on their side of he field," Santa Margarita Coach Jim Hartigan said, "it's hard not to capitalize."

MORE SEA VIEW LEAGUE

Irvine defeated Newport Harbor, 34-15, to claim a share of the league title with Woodbridge. Page 10

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