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ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREP EXTRA

Esperanza's Passing Attack Takes Air Out of Jordan

Wagner throws for six touchdowns--five in the first half--as second-ranked Aztecs win, 61-14, to improve to 4-0.

October 03, 1998|MIKE TERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Esperanza's big game is still two weeks away, when it hooks up with top-ranked Los Alamitos in a Sunset League opener. But the second-ranked Aztecs aren't looking ahead.

And they're not playing down to the level of their competition. They defeated a considerably weaker opponent, winless Long Beach Jordan, 61-14, Friday night before an estimated 3,000 at Jordan High.

Esperanza quarterback Grant Wagner helped his team improve to 4-0 by throwing for five touchdowns in the first half. He threw for his sixth on the Aztecs' first possession of the second half, making the score 54-14, then took the rest of the night off.

Wagner completed 14 of 15 passes for 278 yards.

Jordan (0-4) had nothing to counter Esperanza's passing attack.

Aztec tight end Bob Ashabraner caught three passes for touchdowns of 44, 15 and 19 yards. He did not have a defender within 10 yards of him on any of his receptions. Wide receiver Aaron Hill had two touchdowns among his four receptions, and he too was all alone when he caught them.

"We probably could have thrown any kind of pass we wanted tonight," Esperanza Coach Gary Meek said. "They couldn't cover us. You hate to have games like that, but they happen."

Hill, who had 88 receiving yards, thought the Panthers were more interested in stopping the Aztecs' running game and didn't always pick up on the nuances of their passing game.

"Our [pass] routes can be complex," Hill said. "Usually if you cover one thing, something else is open."

Hill was glad his Esperanza teammates kept their celebrations to a minimum.

"We were confident, but we didn't want to be cocky," Hill said. "Any Long Beach team you play is going to have talent. We kept playing physical, but that was it."

Panther Coach Willie Gillroy said the Aztecs "didn't throw us any passing formation we haven't seen, but that didn't keep us from blowing coverages."

Jordan scored both its touchdowns in the second quarter, on a seven-yard run by Ed Jones and a one-yard plunge by Jerome Moss. The Panthers' most effective player was Terrance Floyd, who alternated at quarterback with Robert Hollice. Floyd threw for 188 yards while ducking and dodging a relentless rush.

But the Panthers stymied themselves with nine penalties (55 yards). And all four turnovers--three lost fumbles and an interception by Matt Parrish on a Hollice pass in the second quarter--were converted into touchdowns by the Aztecs.

"At least they didn't embarrass us," Gillroy said. "They played with class."

And they kept their minds on the business at hand, since the big game is still two weeks away.

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