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PREP FOOTBALL : South Coast League : Mission Viejo Prevails, 16-0, in Battle of Defenses

Times Staff Writer

You know those games in which two great defensive football teams get together and, lo and behold, people are scoring left and right and everyone says they never expected to see something like this? Well, the game between Capistrano Valley and Mission Viejo high schools was nothing like that.

Mission Viejo won the game, 16-0, at home. It was the fifth time in six games that Mission Viejo had held an opponent to 7 points or less.

The Capistrano Valley defense limited the Mission Viejo offense, averaging more than 30 points per game, to 2 touchdowns. Nothing unusual about that, since Capistrano Valley came into the game giving up just 11 points a game.

And, in a game like this, there was nothing unusual about the first score coming from the defense.

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It was midway through the second quarter when linebacker Penn Bushong tackled Capistrano Valley quarterback Tony Solliday in the end zone for a safety. Solliday had set up to pass but failed to find anyone open.

“He kept waiting to find someone,” Bushong said. “That sack had a lot to do with our defensive backs.”

It was Mission Viejo defensive back Stoney Corbin who had earlier prevented Capistrano Valley from scoring. The Cougars had taken possession of the ball on the Mission Viejo 35 after nose tackle Damon Psaros sacked quarterback Troy Kopp, causing a fumble that was recovered by Brent Singleton.

In six plays, Capistrano Valley drove to the Mission Viejo 1. But a fumble on third down put the ball back at the 2. On fourth and goal, Solliday swept left and appeared ready to score, but Corbin made an exceptional open-field tackle at the 2 to stop Solliday and the drive.

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“I read the play from the start,” Corbin said. “I knew I had him.”

After Mission Viejo’s safety, Capistrano Valley punted from its 20. Mission Viejo’s J.J. Fortune returned the ball to the Cougar 31. In 6 plays, including 2 passes from Kopp to tailback Jim Higashi for 17 yards, Mission Viejo found itself at the 1. Kopp sneaked in from there and the conversion gave the Diablos a 9-0 lead.

“In a game like this, with all the emotion, it’s important to keep your composure,” said Mike Rush, Mission Viejo coach. “I thought we did that on that goal-line (stand) against them. And then we came back and got the safety. I thought that was the turning point.”

Mission Viejo’s final score came on a 78-yard pass play from Kopp to slotback Eric Ekdahl with 4:31 left in the third quarter.

“I saw them overload on one side,” Ekdahl said. “When I saw that, I knew we were going to score on that play.”

Kopp and Ekdahl came into the game with some impressive credentials, and neither did anything to tarnish those.

Kopp, the No. 1 rated quarterback in Orange County, completed 10 of 13 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown.

Ekdahl came in averaging 24.5 yards a catch on 20 receptions. He caught 3 Friday for 112 yards, a 37.3 average.

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