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3-A PLAYOFFS : Chula Vista Seeking To Knock Off Morse

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Chula Vista is all fired up and ready to roll. This team is so psyched it could blow a fuse.

Chula Vista instead hopes to blow top-seeded Morse out of the San Diego Section 3-A football playoffs in tonight’s 7:30 semifinal at Southwestern College.

There’s no doubting the size of the Spartans’ hearts, but the reality is that the phrase “best high school team ever,” is being thrown around in the same sentence as Morse (12-0), a billing that hasn’t escaped Chula Vista (10-2).

“The kids are up for it,” Chula Vista Coach George Ohnesorgen said. “It’s always exciting to get to play a team like Morse, especially when they’re being called the best high school team to come out of San Diego.”

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The praise comes for a number of reasons. For starters, the Tigers have scored 586 points and need only 36 more to break Rancho Buena Vista’s section record, set in 1989, of most (622) points in a season.

Then there’s the proven talents of quarterback Teddy Lawrence, who one college scout said was the kind of pure athlete who could play any position, and junior running back Gary Taylor, who has rushed 2,285 yards in his first varsity season. His 1,977 regular-season yards were good for fifth on the section rushing chart.

“They’ll be trying to beat us the same way we’ll be trying to beat them,” Morse Coach John Shacklett said. “They like to run and so do we.”

Fourth-seeded Chula Vista won’t change its approach, unless Morse forces the point. The Spartans will bank on the running of Steve Gomez, Neviett Richardson and LeMar Bailey.

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“Gomez, he’s a fine fullback,” Shacklett said. “In order for us to stop them, we have to eliminate his effectiveness on the field. We’ll try and force them into things they don’t like to do, like throwing the ball.”

With Brandon Gregg, Ohnesorgen said, the Spartans can throw if Morse nullifies their rushing game.

But even if the Tigers can stop Ground Gomez and Co., Morse likely will be conducting its own scoring circus.

“To stop them,” Ohnesorgen said with a laugh, “we’ll have to get CIF to approve of two-minute quarters.” Seriously? “No, we have to keep their offense off the field.”

Chula Vista has as good a chance as anyone, as its scoring defense (9.0 points per game allowed) ranked second in the county during the regular season.

The last time the Spartans got to San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium as a 2-A section finalist was in 1984, a year after they won the 2-A title. They think this is the year for a return visit.

“Why even play if you don’t think you can win,” Ohnesorgen said. “Lots of teams are afraid of playing Morse, but you only get better by playing the best.”


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