SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS : Division VI: : Valencia vs. Tustin
RECORDS--Valencia (13-0), Tustin (12-1).
SITE--Orange Coast College, 7:30 p.m.
VALENCIA UPDATE--Tustin players watching Valencia’s 48-14 victory over Woodbridge in the semifinals came away saying, “Wow,” according to Tustin’s Jason Powell. There’s good reason. Top-seeded Valencia has outscored its opponents, 484-76, an average margin of victory of 31 points. The Tigers have five shutouts, including two in the playoffs. Leading rusher Willie Barnes has gained 1,214 yards and should be a major concern for Tustin. In a new wrinkle from Coach Mike Marrujo, Valencia has turned to passing to complement is usually strong rushing attack. Quarterback Marc O’Brien is Orange County’s top-rated passer, completing 83 of 126 passes (65.9%) for 1,306 yards. This is Valencia’s fourth title-game appearance in the past six seasons. The Tigers won the division championship, 13-0, over Anaheim in 1987, and lost to Corona del Mar, 17-7, in 1988 and lost to Bolsa Grande, 24-7, in 1986.
TUSTIN UPDATE--Third-seeded Tustin lost to Sunny Hills, 7-3, in last season’s championship game. A championship tonight would be the school’s first football title since 1948, when the Tillers defeated Vista. Tustin has lost only twice in its past 27 games--against Sunny Hills last season and Newport Harbor, 21-14, in Sea View League play this season. Leading rusher Maurice Fletcher has been suspended for the remainder of the season for undisclosed reasons, but Tustin’s ground game keeps rolling. Fullback Powell has gained 829 yards in 111 carries, and Keith Thomas will replace Fletcher at tailback. Kicker Zack Matthews has a strong leg, and could play an important role in the outcome.
KEY TO THE GAME--"To stop them we’ve got to hold onto the football,” Tustin Coach Marijon Ancich said. “We need 10- to 12-play scoring drives.” Ancich fears Valencia’s big-play potential. The way to combat it is to keep the ball away from Valencia.
CONSENSUS--This should be a classic, matching two great running teams, two solid defenses and two renowned coaches. In the end, Valencia’s firepower figures to be too much for Tustin to handle. A 24-14 final looms.