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ERIC SONDHEIMER

A show of strength for Mission Viejo

Diablos, ranked 19th, dominate No. 9-ranked Los Angeles Loyola in a 26-7 victory.

September 12, 2009|ERIC SONDHEIMER

There's no Mark Sanchez and no Allan Bridgford at the quarterback position, which helps explain why some people have chosen to dismiss Mission Viejo as a Pac-5 Division title contender.

Don't believe such nonsense.

The Diablos (2-0) have plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball and showed them off in a 26-7 victory over No. 9-ranked Los Angeles Loyola (1-1) Friday night at Mission Viejo.

"They dominated us up front," Loyola Coach Jeff Kearin said.

Yes, the Cubs are hardly a top team without running back Anthony Barr, who went down because of an ankle injury with one minute left in the first quarter and didn't return.

But Mission Viejo was battering Loyola players before and after Barr left with a group of mean, tough, physical linebackers.

"It's the way we were brought up, the way we were coached, so they know who's the big dog," linebacker Nick Dzubnar said of the hard hits.

Dzubnar, Tre Madden and Zach Hoffman will give the Diablos lots of options on defense when they face physical teams in the coming weeks.

"We depend on each other," he said. "We have complete faith in each other."

There's one big reason that Barr's days as a running back will end with high school: injury. At 6 feet 4, 230 pounds, his body can hand out punishment but is also susceptible to nicks, bruises and breaks.

Last season, he was knocked out with hip injuries, and in his second game of the season, he went down with an ankle injury after a nine-yard carry. He never returned, and Loyola struggled in his absence.

Afterward, Kearin expressed concern about the seriousness of the injury. Barr was scheduled to undergo X-rays.

"They don't feel great about it," Kearin said of his medical staff. "He has tenderness. That has them concerned."

The fastest, most agile running back on the field turned out to be Mission Viejo's Exavier Edwards, a transfer from Orange Lutheran who has shown talent the last two years but also was slowed by injuries.

His two 13-yard touchdown runs gave Mission Viejo a 13-0 halftime lead. He had 78 yards rushing in 13 first-half carries. He finished with 96 yards rushing.

Senior quarterback Dallin McEwen was effective at times, completing several clutch third-down throws while finishing with 87 yards passing.

Loyola kept stopping itself with penalties in the first half.

There was a pass-interference penalty on third and eight that kept a Mission Viejo drive alive. There was a holding penalty that wiped out a 28-yard pass completion. There was another holding penalty that nullified an 18-yard gain.

Overall, the Cubs had seven penalties for 70 yards in the first half, leaving Kearin red-faced on the sideline and in an ornery mood.

Junior quarterback Jerry Neuheisel was left to be the Cubs' lone offensive weapon. He finished 13 of 19 for 152 yards.

As for opponents possibly taking the 19th-ranked Diablos lightly, Dzubnar welcomed the challenge.

"We'll be the underdog and take it to every team that wants a piece of us," he said.

These Mission Viejo linebackers mean business.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latsondheimer

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