Santa Margarita's upset of La Puente Bishop Amat, the top-ranked Southern Section Division I team, Friday has quieted talk outside the county that there are no strong Division I teams here besides Mater Dei and Los Alamitos.
The 35-26 victory, Coach Jim Hartigan said, also gave the Eagles (5-1) a sense of confidence that was missing after losses to Carlsbad and Dana Hills, although the Dana Hills game was later awarded to Santa Margarita on a forfeit.
"We've had a lot of questions this season," Hartigan said. "The biggest answer we got Friday was proving we can step on the field with Division I teams and win.
"The main question now is can we consistently play at this level week in and week out. We have a lot of big tests in front of us and three of them--[Mission Hills] Alemany, [Bellflower] St. John Bosco and Mater Dei--are on the road. The one good thing is we can't sit back and be content. As great as Friday's win was, it wasn't even a league win."
HOW TO SPEAR A LANCER
There were two important reasons for Santa Margarita's victory, Hartigan said. The Eagles had no turnovers on offense--"That was big," the coach said--and the defense never gave Bishop Amat a chance to take the game over.
"From the film we watched it was evident that Bishop Amat was really handling teams in the second half," Hartigan said. "We didn't let that happen. I thought it was crucial that on their first series of the second half they went three plays and out, then we got the ball and scored."
On that drive Santa Margarita had great field position when Jimmy Herzog tackled the Lancers' punter at the Bishop Amat 25 after a bad snap. Herzog, who finished with 117 yards rushing, later scored on a three-yard run.
A BATTLE ROYALE
The Sea View League title appears to be anybody's for the taking. Each of the five teams has a winning record, led by Newport Harbor at 5-0-1. Woodbridge and new league mates Aliso Niguel and Laguna Hills (formerly of the Pacific Coast League) are 4-2, and Irvine is 3-2-1.
CARRYING THEIR WEIGHT
Los Alamitos' late touchdown--a diving fingertip grab by Jerry Wenze in the back corner of the end zone--Friday night against Esperanza, did more than give the Griffins a 14-10 come-from-behind victory and an early advantage in the Sunset League race.
Los Alamitos defenders, who have allowed only 37 points in six games, have renewed respect for their teammates on offense.
"Knowing that they will back us up is a good feeling," said linebacker Paul Publico, the defensive captain. "All we can do is keep giving the ball back to them and hoping they can come through. Knowing they can is a big thing."
The Griffins are averaging only 24 points--paltry by Los Alamitos standards--and had scored only 13 against Kennedy a week earlier.
OH SAY, CAN'T YOU SEE . . .
When Dana Hills fans stand for the national anthem, everyone looks for the flag. Well, there isn't one.
When the school put in its new scoreboard this fall, the flagpole was removed. Then, it was lost.
No flag, just an anthem.
A FIELD OF DREAMS
St. Margaret's will dedicate its on-campus football field Oct. 30 with a game against Downey Calvary Chapel. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m.
Festivities will begin at noon with a tailgate picnic. The three-acre field, which will also be used for and soccer, will be dedicated at 1:20 when the Tartan football team is expected to break a banner in place of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The school intends to rent bleachers until it decides how much seating it wants to permanently install.
Staff writers Martin Henderson, Melanie Neff and Peter Yoon contributed to this report.