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ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREP EXTRA | FREEWAY

La Habra's Herrera Runs Wild

October 17, 1998|MARTIN BECK

La Habra, loser of four consecutive games, opened Freeway League play against league-favorite Troy, but first-year Highlander Coach Frank Mazzotta kept telling his players not to worry.

"It takes time," Mazzotta said. "I don't panic and we didn't panic during the preseason. We told them if we believe, it will eventually happen."

It happened Friday--in a big way. Running back Josh Herrera rushed for 358 yards and four touchdowns and La Habra surprised Troy, 48-35, in front of an estimated 1,500 at Fullerton High.

La Habra coaches, viewing film after the game, credited Herrera with 387 yards in 32 carries.

La Habra (2-4, 1-0) was nearly impossible to stop when Herrera, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior, was in the backfield. He gained 195 yards by halftime, scored on runs of 57, seven and 10 yards to give the Highlanders a 34-21 lead, and started the third quarter with a spectacular 55-yard run.

"I've been running pretty good," Herrera said, "but tonight the line picked it up and took it to the next level."

And this was an offensive line missing two starters, Mazzotta said. The holes were often there for Herrera, but he was dazzling even when they weren't.

His third-quarter touchdown is a case in point. Starting at the La Habra 45, Herrera ran around end and completely stopped near the right sideline about 15 yards down field. He dodged and danced around four defenders and cut across the field, beating everyone to the end zone on the left side.

It was the sixth touchdown in six possessions for La Habra and made it 41-21. Troy (3-3, 0-1) tried to fight its way back into it and scored the next two touchdowns, the second on a 20-yard scramble by quarterback Jordan Oliver that closed the deficit to 41-35 with 6 minutes 51 seconds left in the game. But Ryan Hall scored on a one-yard sneak to cap the scoring for La Habra.

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