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FOOTBALL PLAYOFF CAPSULES : Division IX

November 17, 1998|DAVE McKIBBEN

Defending champion: Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, a 28-14 winner over Monrovia.

Seeded teams: 1. La Mirada (10-0); 2. Brea Olinda (9-1); 3. La Verne Bonita; 4. Pacifica (7-3).

Dark horse: Beware of fourth-place teams from the Garden Grove League, especially ones that are on a roll entering the playoffs. Santiago (8-2) lost two games by a total of four points and defeated fourth-seeded Pacifica in the last game of the regular season.

Notes: Top-seeded La Mirada was the top-seeded team in Division VIII last year. In fact, every league in Division IX, except the Orange League, competed in Division VIII this year. The Orange replaced the Pacific Coast League, which is now competing in Division VI. . . . La Mirada returns 10 starters from last year's team that was routed by Laguna Hills, 56-14, in the Division VIII title game. The Matadores have been dominant this year, winning by an average score of 41-8. Their closest game was a 21-18 victory over Lakewood Mayfair (7-3), which plays Los Amigos in the first round. La Mirada has its entire offensive line back, except for its center, and it returns starting All-Suburban League receivers Aaron Gomez and Vaughn Jarrett, who have combined for 60 catches and 14 touchdowns. Running back Mike Lemon, whose brother Tim was a receiver on last year's team, has rushed for 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns. Senior defensive tackle George Woods (6-3, 270) plays fullback when the Matadores go to two backs. Junior defensive tackle/tight end Vince Feula (6-2, 290) is La Mirada's best all-around player. . . . Santiago Coach Ben Haley is happy his team was picked as the at-large team, but he was surprised by his draw. The Cavaliers open with Covina Northview (7-2-1) and then would play La Mirada in the second round. "I thought our draw and La Quinta's would be somewhat reversed," Haley said. "I guess we find right away whether we belong or not." Santiago is only making its second playoff appearance in 11 years. The Cavaliers have won only one playoff game in 10 attempts, but Haley said he feels good about the way his team is playing. "The remote possibility of losing [to Pacifica] did not even enter their minds," Haley said. "Our kids have a confidence level that is not an arrogance and it's really nice to see.". . . Brea Olinda lost to Tustin, 9-7, in the semifinals of last year's Division V playoffs. "I thought it was going to be easier for us in this division," Brea Olinda Coach Jon Looney said. "But you start looking at the teams here and it doesn't look like it's a lot easier. It's a little different style of football and it's kind of fresh and new." The Wildcats' only loss this year was to El Dorado, 27-7, in Week 5. Looney was quietly pleased with his draw. He scouted the Santiago-Pacifica game and feared the Wildcats might have to play the Cavaliers in the second round. "Whoever gets Santiago is not getting any favors," Looney said. "I don't know if anybody's got a better [draw] than we got." . . . Los Amigos' top two offensive players, quarterback Ao Sualua and running back Andrew Niumata, are nursing injuries but are expected to play against Mayfair. Sualua, who also starts at cornerback, has been playing with a hyper-extended back the last three weeks. Niumata, the county's leading rusher with 2,042 yards, bruised his ribs in the second quarter of the Lobos' season-ending victory over Rancho Alamitos, but he finished the game. "He played in tremendous pain," Los Amigos Coach Roger Takahashi said. "It was a pretty courageous effort."

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