Featured Games

Esperanza vs. Marina

The records--Esperanza (12-2), Marina (0-0-1, 8-5 last season).

The site--Westminster Stadium.

Esperanza outlook--The Aztecs will be out to erase the bad memories of their last game of the 1984 season, a 26-0 loss to El Modena in the Southern Conference championship game. Greg Beckman was the Esperanza quarterback, and he is back for what most expect to be a successful senior season. He completed 72% of his passes as a junior and passed for 247 yards in the Aztecs’ 26-14 win over Marina in last year’s season opener. The running game that was so effective last season is a question mark for Coach Pete Yoder this year. Junior Mike Mischione replaces Jim Farrell. Farrell, now at the University of Colorado, was Orange County’s scoring and rushing leader last season. Like their opponents tonight, the Aztecs will have an experienced defensive secondary, one Yoder calls the best he’s had at the school.

Marina outlook--Six ballcarriers combined for 160 yards rushing in the Vikings’ season opener against St. Louis High School of Honolulu last week, a 9-9 tie. But Coach Dave Thompson is understandably concerned about the Vikings’ passing game, which accounted for only 42 yards in that game. Rick Vanderriet, in his first year of competitive football, is the quarterback in Marina’s sometimes complex veer offense. Vanderriet is protected by a big offensive line, led by guards Rick Hunt (6-4, 270) and John Porter (5-10, 230). In the early going, the Vikings will be relying on defense. And that defense has the potential to be among Orange County’s best. Defensive back Bill Craft, who was second in the county last season with eight interceptions, leads an experienced secondary. Noseguard Ty Youngblood was a defensive standout against St. Louis, and he’s surrounded by capable tackles in Ray Maples (6-0, 210) and Ron Larson (6-0, 220).

Key to the game--Much will depend on the effectiveness of the Marina offense. “We just can’t let them dominate us like they did last year,” Thompson said. “Our offensive execution has to be good.”

Consensus--Beckman is a proven passer and will have a much better time dealing with a solid secondary than the inexperienced Vanderriet. The Aztecs are favored in what should be a hard-hitting game.


Capistrano Valley vs. Foothill

The records--Capistrano Valley (5-5), Foothill (10-2).

The site--Northrup Field.

Capistrano Valley outlook--The Cougars will be looking to start quickly with their run-and-shoot offense behind the passing combination of quarterback Scott Stark and receiver Nathan Call. If Foothill double-teams Call, flanker Todd Beightol or running back Rich Grant could be targets for Stark. The only problem with the run-and-shoot offense is that the quarterback always must have an above-average game. Stark, a transfer, will be hard-pressed to riddle the secondary of Foothill, a defense-conscious team.

Foothill outlook--The Knights are hoping to repeat last season’s 22-14 victory over the Cougars, but this year they don’t have a seasoned quarterback such as Jud Dutrisac, who has graduated. Junior Chris Fergus and senior Brian Horten both are expected to play, but regardless, look for the Knights to run when they have the ball. John Fischbeck rushed for 118 yards against the Cougars last season as a sophomore, so Capistrano Valley knows that it will be tough to stop the Knights’ running game, led by Fischbeck and John McTaggart. If the Knights can establish any kind of a passing game, it will take great pressure off of their running backs. Defense should keep them in the game.

Key to the game--Whichever is more dominant, Capistrano Valley’s passing attack or Foothill’s vaunted running game, will likely emerge as the winner. Both defenses are traditionally solid, but the nod there goes to Foothill because of team speed, meaning that the Knights should be able to cover most of what Capistrano Valley throws at them.

Consensus--Stark must have a great night passing for the Cougars to win, and it usually takes passing offenses a couple of games to find the mark. Foothill gets the nod both because of its defense and because it’s a home game for the Knights.

Santa Ana vs. Newport Harbor

The records--Santa Ana (3-7), Newport Harbor (9-1-2).

The site--Davidson Field.

Santa Ana outlook--Saint quarterback Eric Turner spent most of last year’s 27-8 loss to Newport Harbor running for his life. He received little protection, was sacked several times and passed for just 81 yards. It should be a different story this season, with Turner back with a year of varsity football behind him and a bigger and better offensive line, led by guards Liale Afualo (6-0, 240) and Carlos Sanchez (5-11, 205), tackle Tony Gonzales (6-1, 235) and center Sergio Rocha (5-10, 250). Turner will have some speedy receivers to throw to in sophomore Royal Wilbon, who ran a 10-second 100-yard dash as a freshman, returning starter Hector Olivares, Paul Hurley and Eferain Islas. The 1984 backfield of Steve Shaw and Joe Valencia has graduated, but fullback Emle Leausa and tailbacks Derrick Jones and Robert Lee may be quicker and stronger. Santa Ana has several two-way players, but Coach Dick Hill vows that the Saints will be better conditioned than they were last year, when they often suffered from fatigue in the second half.

Newport Harbor outlook--The Sailors have one of Orange County’s best quarterbacks in Shane Foley, who threw for more than 2,300 yards in 1984, but Coach Mike Giddings is still wondering how much protection the offensive line will provide and who will catch Foley’s passes. Newport Harbor graduated two of the county’s best linemen last year in 6-7, 268-pound Mike Beech (now at UCLA) and 6-6, 237-pound Tom Kitchens (Air Force). Scott Craig (6-4, 240) and Jason Nedelman (6-2, 215) return at the guard positions and will be joined by new tackles Chris Sylvis (6-4, 290) and Chuck Warwick (6-2, 220). The Sailors are big but lack experience. Flanker Kevin McClelland is the only returning player who caught a varsity pass last year. The Sailors don’t have much speed at the receiver position, where Mark Craig (6-6, 200) and Andy Sheppard will be stationed. Newport’s defense is led by linebackers Joe Johnson (All-Sea View League last year), Steve Kalatschan (sophomore team MVP last year) and McClelland.

Key to the game--Santa Ana has the quicker team and should be able to cover Newport Harbor’s receivers. If the Saints apply enough pressure on Foley, they should be able to slow the Sailors’ passing game. Newport Harbor must complement Foley with a running game. Santa Ana must take advantage of its speed at wide receiver, but the Saints can’t rely solely on their passing attack, either.

Consensus--Foley may have the edge over Turner at quarterback, but the Saints have better receivers. They also have a stronger rushing attack. This year’s game should be closer than last year’s, and Santa Ana’s running game may give the Saints the edge.