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ORANGE COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

Foothill's Liti Is Big Trouble for Canyon

October 14, 2000|DAN ARRITT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mike Liti ran for more than 2,000 yards for the Foothill freshman team last season, but didn't play a lick during his first varsity game six weeks ago.

Foothill Coach Doug Case is a little wiser now.

Liti blasted for 240 yards in 28 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead Foothill's 35-7 victory over Canyon in a Century League opener Friday at Tustin High.

"You don't know how a sophomore is going to respond on the varsity level and every week he has progressed and progressed," said Case, in his first year after coming over from Rancho Alamitos.

"You've got to give your seniors a chance to win the job to begin with, and now it's Liti time."

Liti, at 5 feet 11, 175 pounds, has a punishing style and low center of gravity that allows him to churn through arm tackles, then use his speed to pull away from defenders. Against Canyon, he scored on runs of five, 22 and 63 yards.

Liti said his parents considered sending him to Mater Dei before his freshman season, but decided to give Foothill a shot instead.

"My dad thought [Mater Dei] was a good idea for me because he knew I was going to be good at football," said Liti, a Tongan American. "I'm glad I stayed here. This is a good school and a good team."

Liti was especially impressive in the first half, when he rushed for 193 yards in 17 carries.

Liti's five-yard touchdown run gave Foothill (2-4, 1-0) a 7-0 lead on its third possession of the game. Two carries later, he scored on the 22-yard run, then took his next carry 63 yards for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Canyon (3-3, 0-1) threatened to make it interesting when Gerald Harvey scored on a 68-yard run minutes later to cut the lead to 21-7, but Foothill answered on its first drive of the second half, scoring on a five-yard touchdown pass from Derek Fitch to Kurt Katnik.

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