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PREP FOOTBALL : South Coast League : Ekdahl Does It All--as Usual--to Lead Mission Viejo

Times Staff Writer

There seemed little else Eric Ekdahl could do for Mission Viejo High School in its 26-14 South Coast League victory over El Toro Friday night.

A crowd of 5,000 at Mission Viejo watched Ekdahl do his weekly Mr. Versatility act. He ran through and around tacklers as a running back. He caught short passes and turned them into sizable gains. And he played a solid game as a defensive back.

He kicked a pair of field goals--a 37-yarder in the first quarter and a 31-yarder in the third.

And when he dived over from the 2-yard line for a touchdown with 1:37 left in the game and added the extra point--his second of the night--Ekdahl became the Diablos’ career scoring leader with 303 points.

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He passed Todd Yert, who had scored 300 points playing for Mission Viejo from 1983-85.

After it was over, after he had rushed for 86 yards in 20 carries and caught 5 passes for 75 more yards, there was still more to be done.

A reporter wanted to ask him questions. The guy from the cable television station needed him for a postgame interview. Somebody else wanted to give him a presentation of some kind.

Ekdahl smiled and obliged.

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“I lot of people--fans at school--thought we would blow them out,” Ekdahl said. “We knew we had to come out and play these guys hard.”

El Toro, thanks to a wide-open, try-anything-once offense, led, 14-9, at halftime and appeared it might upset Mission Viejo, the top-ranked team in the Orange County Sportswriters’ Assn. poll.

A faked field goal try, a fake punt, a lateral, then a pass helped the Chargers (4-3 overall, 1-1 in league play) to their lead.

El Toro receiver Sean Drinkwater, who caught 4 passes for 71 yards, caught a 13-yard pass from Steve Stenstrom for a 7-3 lead with 9:34 left in the half. Ekdahl had given Mission Viejo (7-0, 2-0) a 3-0 lead on a 37-yard field goal.

Running back David Nemeth, who had a game-high 114 yards in 18 carries, put El Toro ahead, 14-3, with a 33-yard run with 2:03 left in the half.

But Troy Kopp, Mission Viejo quarterback and the top-rated passer in the county, rallied the Diablos with a 53-yard scoring pass to John Baldelli with 1:35 left. Kopp’s 2-point conversion run came up short, however, and El Toro had a 14-9 advantage.

A 31-yard field goal by Ekdahl with 4:50 left in the third quarter and a 56-yard scoring pass from Kopp to Baldelli 4 minutes later gave Mission Viejo the lead for good, 19-14.

Ekdahl added his 2-yard dive for the final margin.

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Kopp came into the game having thrown only 2 interceptions all season, but had 3 picked off Friday night. It didn’t seem to faze him, though. He completed 13 of 26 passes for 266 yards.

The Diablo defense held El Toro to 4 first downs in the second half, 3 of which came on a last-minute drive.


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