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Aztecs, Eagles Win From Ground Up

November 17, 2000|BEN BOLCH

Esperanza and Santa Margarita, the two Orange County teams playing the best football in Division I heading into tonight's Southern Section first-round playoff games, share a common thread: they run the ball as well as anyone.

While tailback Temitope Sonuyi has single-handedly carried the Aztecs, running backs Tyler Thompson and Ashton White give the Eagles a one-two punch few teams can match. Thompson has rushed for 1,282 yards and 16 touchdowns, including three 200-yard performances in the last month, and White has added 771 yards.

All Sonuyi has done is lead the county with 2,111 yards and a whopping 28 touchdowns.

"There's no doubt we're playing great football late in the year, and running the ball has been key to our success," Santa Margarita Coach Jim Hartigan said.

Said Esperanza Coach Gary Meek: "We're peaking at the right time, and we have to keep it going."

Esperanza and Santa Margarita could meet in a high-intensity quarterfinal game next week if the Eagles (8-2) defeat Fontana A.B. Miller (5-5) tonight and the Aztecs (9-1) beat Lakewood (6-4).


Villa Park's 14-7 loss to Foothill to end the regular season cost the previously unbeaten Spartans a spot among the top four seeded teams in Division VI, but there was an upside to the defeat.

"Maybe this will shock us into doing some things better," Coach Pat Mahoney said.

The unseeded Spartans (9-1) host Kennedy (7-3) tonight.


Capistrano Valley Christian better have geared up to stop the run in its Division XIII first-round game tonight against Twin Pines because that's practically the only way the Bobcats know how to move the ball.

Twin Pines running back Keith Gibson, who averages 9.3 yards per carry, has rushed for 1,777 yards and seven touchdowns in only eight games for the Bobcats (4-4), and quarterback Aaron Johnson runs almost twice as often as he throws. He has rushed for 1,059 yards and 15 touchdowns while throwing for 766 yards and six touchdowns.

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