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He makes Eagles dare to be good

January 07, 2007|Mike Terry

Coming off a 5-6 season and a first-round exit in the 2005 Southern Section playoffs, Santa Margarita wasn't expected to do much on the football field this season.

But instead the Eagles soared, finishing with a 10-3 record and reaching the Pac-5 Division semifinals. Their breakthrough earned Mike Jacot coach-of-the-year honors from The Times.

"I'm shocked and excited," Jacot said when told of his selection. "It's a big honor. But with so many good coaches and programs that had success ... I was shocked."

The Eagles' season can be defined by three major victories: 9-7 over Long Beach Poly in their season opener; 17-7 over Trinity League rival Santa Ana Mater Dei on Oct. 13, and 25-24 over neighboring Mission Viejo in the Pac-5 playoff quarterfinals.

"I told guys at the beginning of the year, 'Don't worry about the outcome.' We wanted to play as much as we could to our potential," said Jacot, who is 27-18 in four seasons since replacing Jim Hartigan, now the coach at Fresno Clovis West. "That's what we geared our success to, and I felt we played to our potential just about every game.

"We hadn't beaten Mater Dei in three years, hadn't been out of the playoffs' first round in Division I since 2001, and had never reached the semis in Division I," Jacot said.

"But we know how to play under the lights and on camera now."

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