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ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREP EXTRA

Runk Leads Woodbridge by Foothill

Running back, playing in place of injured Harris, rushes for 179 yards in 31-7 victory.

September 19, 1998|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Brandon Runk took a page out of injured Woodbridge teammate Shane Harris' Do-It-All Handbook Friday.

The great injustice was that Runk did everything but score in sixth-ranked Woodbridge's dominant victory over Foothill, 31-7, in front of about 3,500 at Tustin High.

It may have been an important victory when the Southern Section playoffs roll around: Woodbridge (3-0) is ranked fifth in Division VI; Foothill (1-1) seventh. That's where the comparisons ended Friday, largely because of Runk, who rushed 20 times for 179 yards, and an experienced defensive unit that limited Foothill to 161 yards of offense.

Even Foothill's offensive total was skewed, because 85 yards came on four plays. The Knights gained 20 and 19 on their first two carries en route to Skyler Champion's six-yard touchdown run on the opening drive, and gained 25 and 21 with fourth-quarter runs when the game was out of reach.

The 25-yarder came on a fourth-and-one from Foothill's 29, but ended in a fumble recovered by Woodbridge's Justin Valentine.

That led to Woodbridge's final score, a one-yard run by quarterback Scott Barlow to cap a 54-yard drive. Barlow (seven of 15, 126 yards) had passed 43 yards to Zach Foster for Woodbridge's first score.

In between, the Woodbridge defense was mostly fantastic, holding Champion to 49 yards in 13 carries, and limiting Robby Koster to seven for 25 passing for 51 yards. Last week, Champion rushed for 109 and Koster passed for 227.

"The defense stepped it up big time," Woodbridge coach Rick Gibson said. "We hit them every which way. [Koster's] a good quarterback, but our front line was constantly on him."

Koster, under pressure all night, was sacked three times, twice by Adam Jenkins, once by Steve Terwiske.

Runk also played defense, and his special teams' play helped finish the Knights.

Having just gotten Woodbridge to the two-yard line on an 18-yard run that set up Rael Berkowitz's score for a 14-7 lead, Runk blocked a punt on the ensuing possession. Eric Jensen recovered in the end zone for a 21-7 lead with 1 minute 16 second left in the first half.

"That was a back-breaker, quite honestly," Gibson said.

It was Runk's first-ever blocked punt, and he called his overall performance the best of his high school career.

He normally rushes every other series, trading off with Harris who missed the game with a combination ankle-shin injury. Gibson said Harris, who also punts and plays safety, will play next week.

Runk was happy for the chance, though.

"It was a good opportunity for me," he said. "But once Shane is back, we'll be a lot stronger."

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