Forget the B Movies and Check Out the Grade A Football

Mater Dei stunned Eisenhower. Tustin trounced Pacifica. Valencia outwitted La Quinta . . .

Still, you say that you spent Friday night watching a herd of giant, carnivorous rabbits attack Arizona? ("Night of the Lepus," 1972 horror flick starring Janet Leigh, cable).

For shame.

The Southern Section football playoffs are entering their third week, Orange County, and 11 local teams remain. Semifinals start Friday, so get thee to a game.

Need reasons? Here are 10:

1. Running backs.

Orange County has some exciting ones: Mission Viejo's Marcellus Chrishon, Mater Dei's Derek Sparks, Rancho Alamitos' Ulysses Trammell and Tustin's Visko Ancich and Ron Goods.

Goods, a cartoon junkie, is speedier than a revved-up Roger Rabbit. Friday, he outraced defenders to touchdown runs of 93 and 45 yards, the first score stunning even his teammates. Ancich, at 5-9, 180, slam-dances his way through defensive lines like an elephant with an attitude.

2. Quarterbacks.

El Toro's Rob (Son of Bob, Brother of Bret) Johnson is the name in a big-name football family.

When he's hot, he's fun to watch. And when he's not? Well, just watch father-coach Bob the next time Rob throws an interception.

Also note Capistrano Valley's Tony Solliday and Mission Viejo's Tim Snowden--they combine with Johnson to make the South Coast League the best quarterbacked league in the section.

3. Perfect records.

As in Esperanza (12-0), Santa Margarita (12-0), Tustin (12-0) and Whittier Christian (11-0). They didn't get that way by playing Magnolia every week, either.

4. Cross-training.

Esperanza's Garrick Emry, Jarod Smith, Mark Parlin and Mike Burns are among many Aztec players who compete on the county's top boys' track and field team, which has won the past two section 3-A titles.

What makes this significant? The Aztecs' next opponent, Hart, employs a no-huddle, run-and-shoot offense that should test their fitness level.

5. Redemption.

El Toro will play top-seeded Paramount on Saturday. Last year, El Toro lost to Paramount in the final. Enough said.

6. Coaches.

In Orange County, they come in all varieties, but Tustin's Marijon Ancich is one of a kind and one of the best.

Ancich, who works as a longshoreman in Long Beach during the off-season, is sort of a cross between Rodney Dangerfield--listen for the way he says, " Oooooh, oooh !" when he's really impressed by a player--and Fred Flintstone. No offense, coach.

7. Unlikely buddy-buddies.

Capistrano Valley and Mission Viejo. The once-bitter rivals will meet Friday in a Division II semifinal as . . . friends?

Capo Valley receiver David Poltl says it's true.

"Yeah, it's weird, but in the last few weeks, we got to be friends," Poltl said. "Tim Snowden, he's a cool guy. He's cocky, and he knows it, but that's OK. And (linebacker) Beau LeBreton and all those guys are so cool . . . we're starting to do stuff together, and after the game, we're planning on going out together, no matter who wins."

8. Snickers.

Not the candy bar. El Modena Coach Bill Backstrom, whose team was knocked out of the playoffs by Hart last Friday, says it's his favorite thing to do once his season comes to an end.

"It's what most old coaches do--go to the games, watch everyone else on the hot seat and snicker about it," Backstrom said. "During the day, you think of all the good things that happened during the year, then at night, you can't sleep because you remember everything you did wrong. But mostly, you snicker."

9. Santa (Margarita) Claus

Christmas seems to be coming quickly for Santa Margarita, which plays Baldwin Park on Saturday.

The undefeated Eagles, in only their third year of operation, have started to become what every other school in Orange County hoped they would not become: a powerhouse.

Come out and watch the birth of a dynasty.

10. Finally, why not?

The Angels were awful. The Rams are done for. And Cal State Fullerton football is a national punch line. Good high school football might be what you're looking for, Orange County.

Barbie Ludovise's column appears Wednesday and Sunday.

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