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ORANGE COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL | ON THE SIDELINES

Some Games, You'd Rather Forget

November 04, 2000

Every time John Barnes walks on the field at Valencia High, he remembers that night in 1992 when his Los Alamitos football team faced Esperanza. The field was in considerably better shape Friday.

"The 'Mud Bowl' was incredible because of the hype for that game," Barnes said. "It should have been somewhere real big--there were 9,000 or 10,000 people there that night. Both teams could barely get on the field. When we pulled in at 5:30 for a 7:30 game, [stands] on both sides were packed. It was pretty electric.

"It had rained earlier in the day, and we were ankle deep in chocolate syrup. The field was slick. I told the players, 'This is the worse field you'll ever walk on.' "

Los Alamitos won, 34-14.

Though that game was memorable, Barnes says "the very best game" between the Sunset League rivals took place in 1994, during the Griffins' 47-game unbeaten streak.

"The game went back and forth," Barnes said. "They scored with about two minutes to go to lead, 32-28, and Kevin Feterik led us down the field for about a 20-yard pass to Stan Guyness and we won, 34-32. That one stands out."

But for Barnes personally, the biggest game of all was the 1991 championship game. "They had beaten us during the regular season [27-3]," he said. "We were a huge underdog, and we won, 8-0."

No surprise, but Esperanza Coach Gary Meek's pick for the greatest game was different from Barnes' choice.

"When they were No. 1 in the nation [in 1995]," Meek said, "and we beat them."

Esperanza's 21-17 victory in that game was the first of six consecutive meetings decided by five points or less that led up to Friday's game, which turned into an uncharacteristic rout: Esperanza 35, Los Alamitos 7.

*

USC Coach Paul Hackett's status may be uncertain, but Edison tailback Darryl Poston has no doubt about his commitment to the Trojans.

Poston said after the Chargers' 16-3 victory over Fountain Valley on Friday that he will honor the verbal commitment he gave USC last month, "no matter what."

Even if Hackett, whose team has lost its last five games, is fired? "No matter what," Poston reiterated. "I'm solid. I'm going there for Kennedy Pola."

Pola, a USC assistant coach, played at Mater Dei and USC.

*

The battle for the Sunset League title comes down to two unbeaten teams next Thursday when Edison plays Esperanza at Huntington Beach High. That won't be the only league championship that features two unbeaten league opponents.

On Friday, Western (4-0) plays at Brea Olinda (4-0) for the Western League title, and San Clemente (4-0) plays at Mission Viejo (4-0) for the South Coast League title.

Can you say "tailgate party?"

*

Cypress is 8-1, but few thought the Centurions were capable of beating Kennedy, much less dominating the Fighting Irish as they did in a 21-13 victory Thursday. Quite simply, the Centurions' nonleague schedule wasn't very impressive.

The combined record of the four Orange County teams Cypress played--Corona del Mar, La Quinta, Savanna and Santa Ana--is 4-16 in nonleague games. Cypress also played a Canadian team.

"When we scheduled, we thought we could come out of our nonleague schedule 3-2," Cypress Coach Kerry Crabb said. "Corona del Mar used to be in our division, we had never beaten Savanna, and Santa Ana [beat] us last year. We felt we could win in Canada and against La Quinta. Any given year, that could be a soft schedule or a tough schedule. I didn't feel we scheduled five patsies so that we could go 5-0.

"The fact is that we've got some good players."

As it turns out, Cypress' only loss is to Loara, which loaded up its nonleague schedule with games against Western, Mater Dei, Villa Park, El Modena and Irvine and emerged with a 1-4 record.

"Against Loara, we weren't ready," Cypress quarterback Justin Rice said of that 42-12 setback in the league opener. "We were thinking we were as good as our record."

And the reason for Cypress' total domination of Kennedy?

"We have to prove we're as good as our record," Rice said.

*

When Westminster and La Quinta met Thursday, the Mayor's Trophy was nowhere to be found.

The two teams played annually until 1997, with Westminster winning six of the last seven games. The series was discontinued because of the growing disparity in the enrollment of the two schools and the trophy, donated by former Westminster mayor Elden Gillespie, went into mothballs.

While the teams were brought back together by circumstance this year--both play in leagues with an odd number of teams and both had bye weeks the same week--it might be time to resume the annual series. Thursday's game was competitive, with Westminster winning, 20-8, and had all the intensity of a cross-town rivalry.

*

Canyon Coach Brian McKee didn't have to work hard at firing up his team before its game against Orange on Thursday. All he had to do was open the game program and point to the full-page spread touting the Panthers' 14-7 victory over the Comanches last year. It was the only game Orange won all season.

"We got a copy of the program this week and saw [it]," McKee said. "I told them to not take this team lightly.:

His players listened, soundly defeating Orange, 38-0.

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