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PREP FOOTBALL / Southern Section Playoffs

Irvine Bounces Back to Beat Cypress and Reach the Semifinals

Division VI: Depth helps Vaqueros score 36-14 victory over their coach's former team; Santa Margarita up next.


Until last week, Cypress had gone 20 years without a playoff victory. The Centurions' coach back then was Terry Henigan.

Since Henigan left in 1981, Cypress went on to mostly forgettable seasons--not a single league championship--and Henigan went on to develop a perennial power at Irvine.

Friday night at Glover Stadium in the second round of the Southern Section Division VI playoffs, the two met again and the old hand got the upper hand.

Second-seeded Irvine scored 27 consecutive points and took a 36-14 victory over Cypress in front of about 2,000.

Irvine (10-1-1) will play one of its Sea View League rivals, Santa Margarita, Friday in the semifinals--the Vaqueros' first since winning its third consecutive section title in 1992. Cypress finished 7-5.

"I would've still been at Cypress even now, but I took a job in Roseburg, Ore., and it fell through," Henigan said.

His team didn't make it pleasant for Cypress after the first quarter.

The Centurions actually led Irvine, 14-9, despite falling behind by nine points. Irvine's Adrian Guillen blocked a punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety, and Sean Van de Merghel (11 for 18, 166 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) passed 12 yards to Evan Little for a touchdown to provide the Vaqueros' lead.

Cypress quarterback Jeff Crooks completed four of his first six passes, but completed only one of 11 after that. He had two touchdown passes, of 46 and 17 yards.

In the second half, Irvine outgained Cypress in yards, 243-5. The Centurions netted only eight yards rushing on 22 carries, and Crooks passed for 83. Overall, Irvine held a 406-91 advantage, and ran 65 plays from scrimmage to Cypress' 39.

"They started pounding on us," Cypress Coach Kerry Crabb said of Irvine in the second half. "We've been playing that battle all along, but we were facing teams of similar size with guys going both ways, but we knew [Irvine's] depth would be a factor."

Irvine scored on drives of 94, 43 and 59 yards in the second half, with Van de Merghel passing 68 yards to Sean Moussa-Zahab on the first, and Sam Paik (12 carries, 112 yards) rushing five and 27 yards on the last two.

Henigan had worried about the matchup with Cypress' speedy skill players, and for good reason.

Richard Herrera turned a 16-yard pass into a 46-yard touchdown when he spun a defender into the ground, cutting Irvine's lead to 9-7. Then, after lineman Marco Cavka recovered Van de Merghel's fumble at the 17, Darren Shorter grabbed Crook's lob over the secondary for a 14-9 Cypress lead.

The Centurions couldn't hold it.

Two passes, of 13 and seven yards, a facemask penalty and six consecutive rushing plays landed Dave Doomey (25 carries, 110 yards) in the end zone for a 15-14 Irvine advantage. Van de Merghel's completion to Mike Hedman for a two-point conversion provided the 17-14 halftime score.

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