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High Schools | SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL REPORT

La Habra Has Big-Time Look

October 10, 2002|DAN ARRITT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It can't be rented at the local video store, but the hottest tape around is the game film of La Habra's 24-20 loss to perennial power Los Alamitos last Friday night.

Future Griffin opponents would like to see how La Habra, a Division IX program, racked up 405 yards of offense against The Times' fifth-ranked team.

"We moved the ball all over the field," La Habra Coach Frank Mazzotta said.

La Habra held a 20-14 lead in the third quarter and had the ball at midfield when a receiver was called for an illegal block downfield. The Highlanders had to punt and never regained good field position.

"I still can't figure out why we were penalized," Mazzotta said. "Our receiver was just running a pass pattern."

Mazzotta was surprised in the off-season when he requested and secured a two-game series with the high-profile Griffins.

"We're so far out on the edge of Orange County," he said, "people don't realize we're here."

In 2000, the Highlanders won 12 consecutive games and reached the Division IX final for their first championship-game appearance in 17 years.

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South Torrance running back Chauncey Washington is expected to miss the next two games because of a knee injury, Coach Don Gereau said.

Washington, who has committed to USC, hurt his knee against North Torrance in Week 2. He was coming off a 272-yard, six-touchdown performance against West Torrance.

As a sophomore, Washington rushed for 1,548 yards. Last season, he had 1,872 yards and 24 touchdowns.

"He's sorely missed," said Gereau, in his first season after taking over for Brett Peabody, now an assistant at Hawthorne.

To make matters worse, backup running back Tyler Flack bruised his thigh last week against San Pedro and is expected to miss Friday's game against Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula.

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Prepare to make room for Mike Wunderley on the short list of Southland high school football coaches with at least 200 career victories.

Wunderley, who has been at Cerritos Valley Christian since 1979, can reach the milestone Friday when the Crusaders (4-0) play host to Playa del Rey St. Bernard.

Once he does, however, don't expect a speech.

"There are a lot more people paying attention to that than I am," Wunderley said. "The thing I'm most concerned with is getting this team to the playoffs."

Wunderley has led the Crusaders to the playoffs every season, winning Southern Section titles in 1986 and '95.

Among active coaches with at least 200 career victories are John Barnes of Los Alamitos, Dick Bruich of Fontana Kaiser, Steve Grady of L.A. Loyola, Gary Campbell of Norco, Marijon Ancich of Santa Fe Springs St. Paul and George Giannini of Van Nuys Montclair Prep.

"I know there aren't that many guys with 200 wins," Wunderley said, "so it's nice to be in that company."

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Long Beach Poly Coach Raul Lara has worn out the year-old tape of the Jackrabbits' loss to Concord De La Salle, looking for any tidbit that might provide an edge heading into the rematch at 2 p.m. Saturday in Berkeley at California's Memorial Stadium.

So far the only weaknesses he has found are the ones on his team.

"We didn't play our best game that night," Lara said of De La Salle's 29-15 victory at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. "Our game plan was very good but we didn't tackle or execute."

Poly players have vowed to correct the deficiencies that contributed to that defeat, specifically, the failure to catch passes, make key blocks or bring down Maurice Drew, the Spartan running back who blistered the defense for four touchdowns.

"Our saying this year is, 'Play hard, play smart, execute and score,' " Poly quarterback Leon Jackson said. "Each one of those things leads up to the next thing. If you play hard, you'll play smart. If you play smart, you'll execute, and if you execute all the way down the field, you'll score."

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Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops can't like the dispatches he has been receiving from Huntington Beach, where soon-to-be-Sooner quarterback Tommy Grady has been sacked 15 times in Edison's last three games.

The Chargers' offensive line is so thin that guard Jon Simpson, its lone returning starter, has been forced to switch to tackle. Guards Tuo Fuga and Robert Barna have been sidelined by injuries. Barna dislocated his kneecap and is expected to return in two weeks, while Fuga will miss the rest of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"We're playing with guys who have no experience," Coach Dave White said. "They're doing the best they can."

Grady has still managed to complete 51.5% of his passes for 1,148 yards and five touchdowns with only two interceptions. But Edison, No. 5 in The Times' preseason rankings, is 1-3.

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Merrill Mullaly will be Westlake Village Westlake's starting tailback in Friday's Marmonte League game at Calabasas after coming off the bench to rush for 116 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-23 victory at Agoura last week.

Mullaly, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior, replaces Kenneth Mackins, who will continue to start at defensive back.

Mackins, an All-Ventura County defensive back last season, was expected to play a big part in Westlake's offense this season. But he was hampered by injuries during the first three games of the season and had a fumble in the first quarter against Agoura.

Staff writers Ben Bolch and John Ortega contributed to this report.

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