Orange County Prep Review : Rancho Alamitos Is 2-0 and Hopes to Continue Winning, for a Change


Rancho Alamitos High School’s football team, after going 0-9-1 last season and 2-16-1 the last two, is 2-0 this season. Yeah, OK, the victories have come against Buena Park, 30-14, and Savanna, 60-0, which were a combined 4-15-1 last season. Still, a win is a win, especially when your team has only 24 players.

After the Vaqueros’ victory over Savanna Thursday, their first-year coach, Mark Miller, conceded that he would have liked to use some reserves in the second half, “but we don’t have a third string.”

This season, Miller has nine players who start both ways. He also has players such as guard Jerry Campos, who is 5-feet 3-inches tall and weighs 165 pounds and who, Miller said, is “a good little hitter.”


The most impressive of the Vaqueros has been Sean Cheatham, a 5-11, 190-pound senior in his third season as a varsity starter. Cheatham has played offense, defense and special teams in that time and has done it all very well. He also has gone practically unnoticed the past two seasons, as has Rancho Alamitos.

Against Savanna, Cheatham played fullback, tailback, quarterback, linebacker and punt returner. He has scored 64 points so far, including 9 touchdowns. Santa Ana’s Robert Lee led the county in scoring with 120 points last season. At his present pace, Cheatham would pass that mark in his fourth game.

And speaking of scoring, the Vaqueros already have scored more points (90) than they did all last season (67).

It’s easy to say that the Vaqueros’ recent good fortune lies in the weak competition they have faced. Even Miller concedes, “Given who we’ve played, I don’t even know how good we are.”

Rancho Alamitos is one of Orange County’s smallest public high schools with an enrollment of 1,300. But the current class of juniors won Garden Grove League championships as freshman and junior varsity teams.

“Everyone is pretty excited about the way things are going,” said Paul Shane, Rancho Alamitos athletic director. “The students, the community. Being the size we are, we need all the community support we can get.”

Miller has been getting plenty of offensive support, some of which he could do without.

In the Savanna game, with his team already ahead 54-0, Miller told quarterback Rod McCall to keep the ball on the ground and run out the clock. Miller said he worries about injuries.


“One injury could absolutely decimate this team,” he said.

But McCall, faced with fourth and 20, called for a tailback option pass that Baron Lizares (5-3, 130 pounds) threw for a touchdown to Charles Panusis.

“I yanked him right after that,” Miller said. “The Savanna coach (Dana Coleman) is a really big guy. I thought he was going to kill me. I made my offensive line coach walk with me to shake hands.

“But he (Coleman) was great. He understood our situation. You can’t ask kids not to score.”

It doesn’t appear that the Vaqueros have to ask for much. Consider these happenings in the Savanna game:

McCall completed only two passes. Each pass went for a touchdown (40 and 21 yards) to Panusis.

Cheatham scored a touchdown on a running play that mystified Miller. “He was supposed to be the blocking back on that play,” he said.


When things are going well, it’s best not to ask questions.

Add Winners: Buena Park beat Glenn, 16-6, Friday, as Dan Wennerberg rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown. It was Buena Park’s first victory since 1985. Buena Park was 1-9 that season and was 0-9-1 last season.

Todd Marinovich, Capistrano Valley quarterback, threw for 290 yards in the Cougars’ 29-27 victory Friday over Edison, not 190 yards, as was reported by The Times Saturday.

Marinovich completed 16 of 23 passes for a touchdown. He threw one interception.

Marinovich has thrown for a total of 458 yards in 2 games this season and 7,175 yards in his high school career. He is 1,629 yards short of the national record of 8,804 set by Ron Cuccia of Los Angeles Wilson.

At his current pace, an average of 229 yards per game, Marinovich would break the record in the final regular-season game against Mission Viejo, Nov. 13.

Pacifica High School quarterback Shelby Hart is expected to decide today whether he will undergo knee surgery, according to Pacifica Coach Bill Craven.

Craven said Hart could return to the team in six to eight weeks, but will be lost for the season if he undergoes surgery.


Hart, a senior, was injured in practice Tuesday when he was involved in a pileup.

Dan Glenn, the Newport Harbor girls’ volleyball coach, said he took quite a bit of heat from fellow coaches when his team decided to play in the Palisades Invitational instead of the Orange County championships over the weekend.

Newport Harbor would have been one of the teams favored in the county championships, and Glenn said he would have preferred to play in them.

But the Palisades tournament was held at UCLA Saturday afternoon. It just so happened that the women’s volleyball teams of UCLA and California played Saturday evening. And it just so happens that three former Newport Harbor players were playing in that match--Sara Allison and Tracy Krueger (Cal) and Karen Hansen (UCLA).

“I put it to a vote by the team,” Glenn said. “And they decided they’d rather play at UCLA and watch those players after. It made the players happy, but I’m not real popular with the other coaches right now.”

Newport Harbor won the Palisades tournament, defeating Long Beach Wilson in the final. Corona del Mar won the Orange County championships by defeating Irvine in the final.

No. 17 came zipping out of the El Toro backfield to catch a 20-yard pass for a touchdown from Bret Johnson that proved to be the game winner in the Chargers’ 18-11 victory over Fountain Valley Thursday night.


What a guy . . . and who’s that guy?

No. 17 was not listed in the El Toro program, and No. 17 had not been on the field or sidelines for El Toro in the first half.

As it turned out, No. 17 was actually No. 36, running back Ken Moorhead.

Moorhead had taken his jersey off in the El Toro locker room during halftime, and apparently it was stolen.

Sunny Hills’ water polo team appears to be playing as well as it did last season, when the Lancers won the Southern Section 4-A championship.

Jason Klingsberg and brothers Jose and Javier Santiago have accounted for 29 of 30 goals in the team’s two games--a 15-6 victory over Mission Viejo and a 15-10 victory over Riverside Poly. Jose Santiago, a junior, has scored 12 goals; Javier, a senior, has scored 7, and Klingsberg, a junior, 10.


George Tuioti, Santa Ana’s All-Century League linebacker, on reconciling that position with his new duties as quarterback: “I’m out there trying to kill the opposing quarterback and then I am the quarterback. It’s kind of a Heckly and Jeckly situation.”

Mission Viejo Coach Bill Crow, after learning that El Modena was left without a game when Patrick Henry of San Diego failed to honor a written contract: “They did the same thing to us two years ago. I had a written contract and they said they couldn’t play us because the game was scheduled on a Jewish holiday. Fortunately, I checked with them in June and managed to get a game with Santa Ana, so we didn’t get stuck with a bye.”

Trey Frank, El Modena quarterback, after being knocked out of the Vanguards’ 31-0 loss to Esperanza when Aztec linebacker Steve Arthur leveled him in the second quarter: “I knew I was going to get hit when I released the ball, but I’ve never been hit like that in my life. Who are those guys?”