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Esperanza Outlasts Speedy Dominguez

September 13, 2002|Dan Arritt, Eric Maddy, Ben Bolch

Compton Dominguez High had the speed advantage Thursday night against Anaheim Esperanza, but it was the Aztecs that pulled away in the second half and won, 38-14, in a nonleauge, season-opening game at Placentia Valencia High.

Esperanza, ranked 24th by The Times, scored 38 unanswered points beginning late in the second quarter.

The Aztecs seemed to benefit from better conditioning, the result of a rugged program instituted in the offseason. Esperanza's lack of stamina was a factor last season when it had a losing record for the first time in 16 years, said running back Shaun Wildenstein.

"Last year, conditioning was a problem," said Wildenstein, who rushed for 103 of his 137 yards in the second half before leaving with a right knee injury. "In the third and fourth quarters, we were really out of shape."

Esperanza quarterback Rick Taloa, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot in the season opener last year and missed the rest of the season, completed three of his first 13 passes, but a 49-yard strike to Jason Thompson with just under two minutes remaining in the first half got the Aztecs past midfield for the first time. On the next play, Taloa connected with Adam Hill on an 18-yard touchdown pass.

Esperanza got the ball back at midfield with 21 seconds remaining and Thompson's 22-yard reception set up a 42-yard field goal by Brandon Weiner as time expired.

The Aztecs took a 17-14 lead on the opening drive of the second half, marching 65 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a five-yard run by Steve Kretschmar.

Dominguez, ranked 25th, recovered a fumble by Wildenstein at the Esperanza 37, but gave it back two plays later on a fumble.

Wildenstein hurt his knee on the ensuing series, but Eric Lyman took his spot and scored a minute later on a 15-yard touchdown run. Lyman added two more touchdown runs.

Dan Arritt


Santa Ana Mater Dei 21, Orange Lutheran 20--The heavily favored Monarchs broke up a two-point conversion pass in the closing seconds to claim the nonleague victory at Santa Ana Stadium.

The Lancers, two-time Division XI runners-up who moved into the Empire League and Division VI this season, outgained Mater Dei, 390-266 yards, and outrushed them, 328-186.

No. 7 Mater Dei (1-0) had taken a 7-0 lead on the opening drive on a four-yard scoring pass from Jessie Mier to Robert Della Grotta, and on its next possession, Tim Chicoine put a punt inside the Lancer one-yard line.

Seventeen plays and 99 yards later, Lutheran (0-1) had the tying touchdown as well as a good measure of respect when quarterback Casey Whieldon ran in from a yard out. Twice more the Monarchs scored, and twice more Lutheran answered.

A Whieldon-to-Anthony Vernaglia touchdown pass closed the gap to 21-20 with three seconds left.

John Ausmus led the Lancer rushing attack with 206 yards in 18 carries. Whieldon struggled with his passing in the first half, missing on nine of his first 12 attempts, but ran the option to perfection and finished with 44 yards on the ground.

Mater Dei was led by Mier, who ran for 87 yards and threw for 65 more.

Eric Maddy


Santa Margarita 17, Orange El Modena 10--Sophomore quarterback Mark Sanchez completed his first varsity pass to Bobby Whithorne for a 55-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to put No. 9 Santa Margarita ahead for good during the nonleague victory.

Whithorne took the pass over the middle at the El Modena 35-yard line and sprinted into the end zone to make it 14-10. Will Johnson tacked on a 25-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to set the final margin.

Santa Margarita (1-0) staved off two late Vanguard drives by forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass to preserve the victory.

Santa Margarita running back Ashton White finished with 86 yards and a touchdown in 27 carries.

Daniel Dixon, who caught the Santa Margarita defense off guard by running out of the wing-T formation on occasion, had 160 yards and a touchdown in 28 carries for El Modena (0-1).

Ben Bolch


Mission Viejo 48, Fountain Valley 0--Senior Josh Rodarmel completed six of nine passes for 103 yards and touchdowns of 20 yards to Clark Hardman and 32 yards to Taylor Holiday before leaving the game with four minutes left in the first half with a broken collarbone for the No. 6 Diablos (1-0) in a nonleague game at Mission Viejo.

Alta Loma 35, Covina Charter Oak 31--Greg Holt scored on a one-yard run with 1:26 to play to give the Braves a nonleague victory over the No. 16 Chargers at Chaffey College.

Charter Oak took a 31-28 lead when Michael Perri threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Rafael Falcon. It was Perri's third consecutive completion on the scoring drive.

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