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Touchdown-Maker Jacot Has One More Chance to Stand Alone : Division X: With 34 already, Southern California Christian junior needs one score tonight to break county single-season record.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Let’s play a little game of word association, shall we?

You say intense. We say Mike Jacot. You say competitive. We say Mike Jacot. You say fierce. We say Mike Jacot.

You say tell us more about this Mike Jacot. We say you broke the natural progression of this quiz, but here goes anyway.

Jacot is the gifted tailback and strong safety for the Southern California Christian team that faces rival Calvary Chapel for the Southern Section Division X championship at 7:30 tonight at Santa Ana Stadium.

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He tied with Jeff Byrd of Rancho Alamitos for the Orange County rushing title with 1,492 yards, and led all county players in regular-season touchdowns (28) and scoring (182 points).

In a 58-0 victory over Capistrano Valley Christian, Jacot rushed for 239 yards and scored six touchdowns.

And in three playoff games--the only three victories ever by the Flames in the playoffs--he picked up another 409 yards and six touchdowns. The last touchdown, on a 21-yard run in a 20-10 victory over Rosamond in the semifinals last Friday, gave him 34 this season, and a share of the county’s single-season record, set by Ron Papazian of Whittier Christian in 1989.

Those numbers would make many players’ egos grow larger than a Don King diamond ring. They don’t seem to do much for Jacot, though. When it comes to personal accomplishments, another word that could be used to describe the 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior is “unassuming.”

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“I wasn’t aware I tied the (touchdown) record until I read the papers the next day,” Jacot said. “It wasn’t something I was looking for. It just popped up.”

Popping opposing ballcarriers from his strong safety position--not carrying the ball--is what Jacot enjoys most during games. That’s better to him than leaving defenders in his dust after breaking one of his long runs. Maybe Jacot, a high-strung sort, enjoys hitting as a type of catharsis for his younger days, when his parents wouldn’t let him play full-contact football.

“My parents were afraid I’d get hurt,” Jacot said. “Then they finally let me play Junior All-American when I was in the eighth grade. Turns out I broke my right ankle in a practice right before the final game (of the season). When high school came around, they left it up to me whether I wanted to play.”

He did, so he went out for the Servite freshman team, and made it. But Jacot said he didn’t like the school and transferred to Garden Grove High for a semester before enrolling at Southern California Christian last year. He joined the Flames’ junior varsity but soon found that, in his estimation, other players didn’t share his intensity. The sparks started flying.

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“I didn’t get along with a lot of the guys,” said Jacot, who is as blunt as he is talented. “I got into a couple of scuffles with varsity players. They weren’t used to my intensity in practice. . . . Now I get along with all the guys on the team. It’s like a big family.”

However, Jacot said he almost lost that family at the end of last school year, when he was suspended from Southern California Christian for personal reasons he declined to disclose. He planned to attend Garden Grove High, and even practiced with the Argonauts during the summer. But he returned to Southern California Christian because his parents encouraged him to, and because he would have lost a season of varsity eligibility under Southern Section rules.

Southern California Christian Coach Bert Esposito, for one, is thrilled he did.

"(Jacot) lives on the edge. He likes to take a chance on anything,” Esposito said. “He’s very much into excitement and adventure. He’s very persevering in that when he decides to do something, he does it. He understands the game better than most kids. You only have to tell him things once.”

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Jacot, who had never played offense until he arrived at Southern California Christian, where two-way players are commonplace because the school only has about 150 students, obviously has been a quick study. The numbers attest to that.

And just imagine. One touchdown tonight and Jacot’s name will be associated with something else--a record that will be his and his alone.


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