A meaningful rivalry between the Oceanside and Rancho Buena Vista high school football teams might last only as long as the game that begins tonight at 7:30 at Oceanside.
They are the best two teams not only in San Diego County but in the state medium school poll compiled by Cal-Hi Sports--Oceanside is No. 1 and Rancho Buena Vista No. 2 in each. Both are 5-0 and 2-0 in the Avocado League.
The only other meeting last season, with Rancho Buena Vista fielding a first football team made up of sophomores and juniors, ended in a 14-14 tie. Next season, RBV will move to the 3-A Palomar League. Unless the two schools play for the 2-A title Dec. 10, it is doubtful a future game would mean as much as tonight’s.
This is the first No. 1-No. 2 game between county football teams since Vista and Helix played in 1981, and it is probably the first time the top two teams in the county have been from 2-A.
“This is the kind of game coaches dream about,” Oceanside Coach Roy Scaffidi said.
But while Oceanside seems to be psyching up for the game, Rancho Buena Vista seems to be psyching down.
“The most important thing about it is it’s a league game,” RBV Coach Craig Bell said. “Win, lose or draw, games that follow are just as crucial.”
RBV has yet to be challenged in 1988, winning by an average of 28.6 points and leading the county in scoring (42 points per game). It has a dominant rushing attack that has gained 2,049 yards (409.8 per game, 8.6 per attempt).
Running backs Scott Garcia and O.J. Hall are the county’s second-and third-leading rushers. Garcia, a senior, has 860 yards with a county-leading 15 touchdowns. He is averaging 172.0 yards per game. Hall, a junior, has 801 yards (160.2 average).
“I think they’re awesome,” Scaffidi said. “If we can’t slow down that running attack, it’s going to be a long night for the Pirates.”
But Scaffidi has a plan: “We’re going to play 15 guys on defense.”
Jokes aside, Scaffidi might be hard pressed to come up with that many. While few would argue that he has the best talent in the county, Oceanside suits up just 26 players. More than half the offensive starters also play defense. RBV, which suits 53, wears defenses down with its pounding ball-control attack.
Oceanside played a similar team at Mater Dei 3 weeks ago. After taking a huge lead, Oceanside got tired and barely held off a furious fourth-quarter rally.
“That could be a factor,” Scaffidi said. “But that’s a factor we deal with every week. I think having played 5 games with 26 guys has given us some experience dealing with that reality. I don’t think it will hurt us against Rancho Buena Vista.”
Scaffidi hopes to hurt RBV with his quarterback, versatile junior Jerry Garrett, and an offensive line that averages 6-feet 2-inches, 221 pounds.
“I’ve got the best offensive line in the county, not Rancho Buena Vista,” Scaffidi said. "(RBV’s line) is very good, but not as good as ours.”
Scaffidi said junior guards Pulu Poumele (6-4, 245) and Sale Isaia (6-4, 231) are All-American caliber players.
But Garrett is the player Bell fears the most.
“He’s probably the most talented player in the county,” Bell said.
Garrett averages 192.6 yards per game running and passing. He is also the kicker and punter, a position from which he is dangerous.
A key for RBV in stopping Garrett might be if linebacker Al Aliipule, the Longhorns’ best defensive player, can return from a dislocated shoulder that has kept him out of the past two games. He is questionable.