School: Santa Margarita High
Position: Running back
Early this season, Santa Margarita found out what football could be like without Ireland, who has been the school’s starting tailback since the Eagles first fielded a team in 1989. Ireland suffered a deep thigh contusion in the first half of the Eagles’ second game. He missed only one game because of the injury but was slowed considerably and had fully recovered only about two weeks ago. “When he doesn’t play or when he plays hurt, we’re not the same team,” Santa Margarita Coach Jim Hartigan said. At full strength Friday, Ireland rushed for 273 yards and four touchdowns in 24 carries in a 35-27 victory over San Luis Obispo. Ireland, who also plays strong safety and outside linebacker, had seven unassisted tackles in the victory, which was necessary for the free-lance Eagles (5-3-1) to have a chance for an at-large playoff spot. The offensive performance gave him 1,128 yards for the season, putting him over 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season.
Other top performers:
Jeff Brunswig, who accounted for all of Canyon’s points in a 19-6 victory over Santa Ana Valley. He returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown, scored two more touchdowns rushing and kicked an extra point.
Johnny Ochoa, who won the Sea View League cross-country title and helped Saddleback to the league team title by finishing three miles in 15 minutes 13 seconds.
Tyler Rootlieb, who scored five goals in Laguna Beach’s 9-7 water polo victory over Costa Mesa, which gave the Artists a tie for the Pacific Coast League title.
Jim Webber, who gained 258 yards and scored two touchdowns in 42 carries as Laguna Hills defeated Laguna Beach, 22-20.