Rancho Alamitos High School Coach Mark Miller has been extremely successful giving the ball to running back Sean Cheatham.
But the time he didn't will stay with the first-year Vaquero coach throughout the off-season as La Quinta defeated Rancho, 13-12 at Bolsa Grande Stadium Saturday night.
Trailing by a point with 8:40 left in the game after Cheatham's second touchdown run of the night, Miller elected to go for a two-point conversion. Instead of rushing Cheatham, Miller called a sweep for quarterback Rodney McCall, who was stopped short of the end zone.
"I should have gone with Cheatham," Miller said. "We were on a roll, but I thought Rodney could get around the end. I was wrong."
The loss eliminates the Vaqueros (6-4 overall, 3-4 in conference) from playoff contention. Santiago will represent the Garden Grove League in the Central Conference playoffs.
La Quinta (3-7, 3-4) scored first on a one-yard Tom Cherms run with 30 seconds to play in the first half.
The Vaqueros came back on their first drive of the second half when Cheatham scored on a 49-yard run. Despite playing with a stomach flu, the county's leading rusher and scoring, gained 211 yards in 28 carries.
Cheatham was stopped on the conversion attempt, however, making the score 7-6.
The Aztecs then went ahead, 13-6, when Jeff Anderson capped a 72-yard, 11 play drive with a 9-yard burst. Cheatham's six-yard touchdown run four minutes later gave the Vaqueros a chance.
After the missed conversion, La Quinta controlled the ball and ran out the clock.
In Olympic League action:
Orange Lutheran 24, Southern California Christian 20--Jason Neben rushed for 148 yards in 21 carries, including the game-winning touchdown with 1:51 left in the third quarter. Orange Lutheran is 5-5 overall, 3-2 in league play. Eric Norwood rushed for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns in 27 carries.
In Eight-man (Small Division) playoffs:
California Lutheran 25, Victor Valley Christian 0--Quarterback Matt Manke completed 13 of 23 passes for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns for the C-Hawks (7-2) at California Lutheran. Brian Guthmiller rushed for 108 yards in 18 carries. Linebacker Curt Sacks had 17 tackles and 2 sacks for the C-Hawks, who play Coast Christian next week.