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High Schools | SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL REPORT

Ontario Chaffey Is No Longer at a Loss

November 06, 2003|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

The list of football teams that have made it through eight weeks without a loss features many of the usual suspects, but there is at least one among the 13 undefeated Southern Section schools that may elicit a double-take.

Ontario Chaffey, a team that received a forfeit victory to go 3-8 last season and was 2-8 in 2001, when it lost by such scores as 55-20 and 42-7, is 8-0 this season.

The Tigers clearly stand out on a list that includes Southern California powers Mission Viejo, Riverside North, Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, Ventura St. Bonaventure, Westlake Village Westlake and Hacienda Heights Los Altos.

It is the longest Chaffey win streak since the Tigers won seven straight in 1979, and nobody is more surprised than co-Coach Bart Goldstein.

"Who expected us to have this kind of season?" Goldstein said. "Certainly not me. I really didn't know what we had here until we put on the pads."

League realignment two years ago has been a crucial factor. Chaffey plays in the Mt. Baldy League, which was a Division II league and included powers Etiwanda, Rancho Cucamonga and Alta Loma. Those teams were switched to the Baseline League before last season, and the new Mt. Baldy League plays in Division VIII.

"We got blown out by those guys for years," Goldstein said. "Now we have a schedule that puts us against teams we can play with. We're finally in a league that we should be in."

Led by linebackers David Tahi, a senior, and Daniel Moreno, a sophomore, the Tigers have given up only 6.6 points per game and have four shutouts. No team has scored more than 17 points against them. Goldstein said punter Jeff Escobar has helped his team win the field-position battle, which has given the defense plenty of cushion.

"He has been crucial to our success," Goldstein said. "Every time we need to get out of a hole, he gets us out, and I can't tell you how many times he has pinned the other team deep."

Goldstein really can't tell. He hasn't kept statistics this season.

"I didn't think I'd need them," Goldstein said. "I didn't think anyone would be interested in them."

On offense, sophomore running back John Alejandro, who Goldstein said "is quickly approaching 1,000 yards," has led the way. Alejandro is new to football and played only one game on the freshman team last year.

"We didn't know he was going to be this good," Goldstein said. "When we finally got him in pads, I said, 'He's pretty talented.' The last two or three games he's gone over 200 yards and he's still learning how to be a running back."

Chaffey, which already has defeated defending league champion Pomona Diamond Ranch, plays Ontario on Friday. The winner clinches at least a share of the league title, but Goldstein said he doesn't broach that subject with a young team that starts only three seniors on defense.

"You don't want to set them up to fail," he said. "If we set those goals and fall short, the kids feel like they failed."

*

Beverly Hills was in a fog last year when it played at Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula, but the Normans hope things will be different when they try for their first victory over the Panthers on Friday night.

Peninsula defeated Beverly Hills, 34-14, last year in a game played in fog so thick the teams couldn't see one another across the field. The conditions grounded a potent Beverly Hills passing attack.

"I thought we matched up pretty well with them," Beverly Hills Coach Carter Paysinger said. "But the fog took away half of our offense."

If it does again this year, the Normans still might have a chance. Beverly Hills (5-2-1) averages 33.7 points and 42.6 in games in which quarterback Ollie Linter plays.

Linter, who has completed 89 of 144 passes for 1,364 yards with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions, was ejected in the first quarter of a 36-7 loss to Long Beach Wilson and subsequently missed the Normans' 28-7 loss to Oxnard Pacifica. With Linter, Beverly Hills is undefeated.

Receiver Brandon Rice has 53 catches for 819 yards and running back Kyle McCall has rushed 125 times for 749 yards despite missing two games because of injuries.

A victory Friday would set up a league-title showdown with three-time defending league champion Mira Costa.

"This is a big game for us," Paysinger said. "We haven't ever beaten Peninsula and we have never won a Bay League title. We definitely have something to prove."

*

Two of the longest consecutive league championship streaks in state history can be extended Friday night when Newhall Hart plays Saugus in a Foothill League game and Long Beach Poly faces Lakewood in the Moore League.

Hart (5-3, 3-0) has won 12 consecutive league titles and can clinch at least a tie for its 13th with a victory over Saugus (2-6, 0-3). A victory would move Hart into a tie for the fourth-longest league title streak in state history, according to Cal-Hi Sports.

Poly (6-2, 4-0) has won or shared 11 consecutive league titles but faces what many consider its biggest threat to the streak in Lakewood (7-2, 4-0). Last year, Poly defeated Lakewood, 28-12.

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