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Which Powerhouse Will Be Left Standing?

November 14, 2000|BEN BOLCH

Second-seeded Esperanza is playing so well that the temptation might be to say the road to the Division I championship goes through Placentia, where the Aztecs play their home games.

But then, Esperanza Coach Gary Meek's 1-6 record in the Division I playoffs comes to mind and that theory gets thrown out the window. Or does it?

The Aztecs (9-1) have one of the division's most potent rushers in Temitope Sonuyi and a top quarterback in Ryan Sausedo, who threw for 303 yards last week in Esperanza's 49-43 victory over Edison.

"We take anyone we get very seriously," said Meek, whose team meets Lakewood (6-4) in the first round.

"I don't care who it is, we've got to come out and play very well. The kids have to be mentally prepared, and that's my job."

Few coaches doubt that the Aztecs will break their playoff hex.

One went so far as to say there should be "a major investigation" if Esperanza doesn't make it to at least the semifinal round. . . .

Santa Margarita, like Esperanza, is playing its best football late in the season. The Eagles have a seemingly unstoppable rushing attack behind the play of Tyler Thompson and Ashton White, who have combined for more than 300 yards in several games this season.

If Santa Margarita (8-2) beats Fontana A.B. Miller in the first round, it would likely meet Esperanza in what would be an electric quarterfinal game. . . .

Traditional powerhouses Los Alamitos and Mater Dei are in unfamiliar territory as unseeded teams, but it's no surprise. The Griffins (8-2) finished third in the Sunset League and the Monarchs (8-2) came in second in the Serra League.

It's the first time Los Alamitos has been a No. 3 entrant since 1990. The Griffins drew third-seeded Rialto Eisenhower, whose coaches reportedly grumbled about drawing such a tough first-round matchup. . . .

Edison Coach Dave White is the master of keeping his players' emotions in check. A week after White's Chargers were thumped by Mater Dei, they rebounded for a rousing victory over Servite. Then, after Edison topped rival Los Alamitos, the Chargers didn't miss a beat the following week in a victory over Marina.

White's most difficult task comes this week when his team faces Servite in the first round following a draining, loss to Esperanza in the last seconds. Edison (8-2) hasn't been to the playoffs since 1995, but White isn't just happy just to be here. He would like to pick up at least a victory or two. . . .

Fountain Valley (5-5) drew top-seeded Long Beach Poly (10-0) in the first round for the second consecutive year. Baron Coach Eric Johnson said he would have preferred to have been on the opposite side of the draw from the Jackrabbits, but added that if your goal is to win a championship, you might as well play the top team in the first round.

"We'll approach this game the same way as last year: We'll prepare to win," said Johnson, whose team outgained Poly in total yardage last season but was undone by eight turnovers.


Key Player

Name: Tyler Thompson

School: Santa Margarita

Key stat: 1,283 yds.


Notable: Set school mark for longest run from scrimmage with a 95-yard touchdown against Norco.

At a Glance

1999 winner: Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly were co-champions

Seeded teams: 1. Long Beach Poly (10-0), 2. Los Angeles Loyola (9-1), 3. Rialto Eisenhower (9-1), 4. Esperanza (9-1)

County teams: Fountain Valley (5-5), Santa Margarita (8-2), Esperanza (9-1), Los Alamitos (8-2), Mater Dei (8-2), Edison (8-2), Servite (7-3)

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