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Los Alamitos Stands Tall

No. 4 Griffins rally for 16-12 Sunset League victory over No. 8 Esperanza as Barnes ties Orange County record with 212th win.

October 27, 2002|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Los Alamitos High all but clinched its second consecutive Sunset League title Saturday night by rallying to defeat Anaheim Esperanza, 16-12, at Placentia Valencia High.

Quarterback Jeff Kline scored on a one-yard plunge midway through the fourth quarter to provide the winning margin for the Griffins (6-0-1, 2-0), No. 4 in The Times' rankings.

The victory allowed Los Alamitos Coach John Barnes to tie former Santa Ana Valley, Santa Ana and Orange Coach Dick Hill as the winningest football coach in Orange County history. Each coach has 212 victories.

"The win is a lot more important than the milestone," Barnes said. "The milestone is one of those things I'll look back on when I'm 70 and think it's wonderful."

The victory was especially impressive considering it came against No. 8 Esperanza (6-1, 1-1), which was averaging 42 points.

Trailing, 12-10, Los Alamitos struggled to move the ball for much of the second half. The Griffins went three and out on their first two possessions, and Esperanza took over at the Los Alamitos 42-yard line early in the fourth quarter clinging to its two-point lead.

But the Aztecs moved 20 yards backward before giving the ball back to the Griffins, who went 68 yards in seven plays to take the lead for good on Kline's touchdown run.

Los Alamitos receiver Brandon Tripp intercepted a Rick Taloa pass with 1 minute 57 seconds left to preserve the victory for the Griffins, who tied Huntington Beach Edison for the league title last season.

"I could read [Taloa's] eyes," said Tripp, who also caught seven passes for 85 yards, "and he just threw the ball right to me."

Jeremy Childs scored Los Alamitos' other touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Kline in the first quarter. Kevin Gamarnik's 29-yard field goal early in the second quarter made it 10-0.

Esperanza cut its deficit to 10-6 when tight end John Pace scored on a five-yard pass from Taloa. The Aztecs took the lead in the third quarter when Shaun Wildenstein (132 yards in 22 carries) scored on a one-yard run.

Kline completed 16 of 24 passes for 189 yards. Receiver Jeremy Childs was the recipient of six of those passes for 91 yards.

Ryan Bagley rushed for 120 yards in 17 carries for Los Alamitos.

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