Which is the best football team in the Southern Conference? The answer, my friend, was blowing in the wind.
El Toro High School, defying gusts of up to 50 m.p.h., scored on its first two possessions Saturday night and blew away Los Alamitos, 36-6, to win its second straight conference title before a crowd of about 8,000 at Orange Coast College's LeBard Stadium.
Charger quarterback Bret Johnson completed his first 7 pass attempts for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns in about 19 minutes of the first half. Johnson took advantage of Los Alamitos' single coverage as the Chargers built a 30-0 lead at halftime.
"Single coverage against us is suicide, big time," Johnson said. "I thought we played a perfect half. The line was giving me great protection, and I couldn't believe how wide open our receivers were."
Los Alamitos (12-2) came into the game billed as the best defensive team in Orange County. The Griffins had shut out seven opponents and had allowed only 27 points in the regular season.
But El Toro set the tone for the lopsided game by driving for 2 touchdowns in the first quarter, and the rout was on. Johnson teamed with Jason Vivonia on an 11-yard touchdown pass and then threw a 63-yard bomb to Adam Brass for another score.
"All we heard about was their No. 1 defense, and it was 30-0 at halftime," Johnson said. "The championship game was last week when we beat Santa Ana (13-12)."
Cory Wayland, the Chargers' 240-pound tackle who starts on the offensive and defensive lines, said El Toro controlled both lines of scrimmage.
"Their defense got real quiet after we went up 14-0 on them," Wayland said. "They didn't have any emotion and they let up."
The Griffins' defense had a moment of glory in the second quarter that was quickly erased when El Toro's defense scored a safety. Los Alamitos had staged a goal-line stand, stopping the Chargers on two successive plays at the Griffin one.
But, on Los Alamitos' first offensive play, running back Marcus Garcia was tackled three yards behind the line of scrimmage by El Toro's Adam DeMalignon for a safety and a 16-0 lead. It only got worse for the Griffins.
Johnson teamed with Brass on another touchdown pass that covered 35 yards with 7:31 remaining in the half for a 24-0 lead, and then sophomore Ken Romaniszyn scored on a three-yard run for a 30-point lead at halftime.
Afterward, Los Alamitos Coach John Barnes had little to say about the blowout.
"To be honest, I thought the conditions last week were a lot nicer than tonight," he said. Of course, a downpour last week aided Los Alamitos' 7-6 win over Mission Viejo in the semifinals.