ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREP EXTRA : Cougars Handle El Modena : Prep football: New quarterback Moherman recovers from shaky start to lead Capistrano Valley, 29-7.


New Capistrano Valley quarterback Austin Moherman started about as shaky as the rest of his team--fumbling two snaps in his first two series.

But Moherman, a transfer from Los Angeles Wilson who entered the game late in the first quarter, settled down with two touchdown passes in his next two series and by halftime, seventh-ranked Capistrano Valley was on its way to an easy 29-7 victory Friday night over El Modena.

The score could have been a lot worse had Capistrano Valley capitalized on its early scoring opportunities. The Cougars (3-1) crossed the El Modena 25 four times in the first quarter but could only manage a 26-yard field goal by Brett Thompson.


“We were pretty flat when we started,” Capistrano Valley Coach Dave Brown said. “It concerns me a lot. But I’m proud of the way they picked it up and finished the game.”

Brown was also proud of the way Moherman and running back Malaefou MacKenzie performed. Moherman, who played at Mission Viejo last year, finished six of 13 for 127 yards and two touchdowns. But he owed his first touchdown pass--a 33-yarder--to MacKenzie, who caught a flat pass and then juked three frozen El Modena defenders before he spun into the end zone.

“He’s unbelievable,” Moherman said. “I’ve played with some pretty good running backs, but no one like him. He’s something special.”

MacKenzie also ran the opening kickoff back 69 yards and another back 63 yards. He scored Capistrano Valley’s last touchdown on an 80-yard sweep around right end.

“He’s been dinged a little, but it was good to see him get some yards,” Brown said. “We have to be patient with him. He’s such a great athlete that if we keep giving him the ball, he’s eventually going to break one.”

For the second consecutive game, Moherman replaced starter Tim Hirchag and he appears to be close to taking over the starting job.

“This week was a big transition for me,” Moherman said. “It’s taking me awhile to get settled in, but I’m very happy to be here.”

Moherman showed off his arm with a 31-yard scoring pass to Todd Puffer with 1:35 left in the half. He surveyed the field twice before throwing a strike to the streaking Puffer.

Once El Modena (3-1) fell behind, it seemed to lose its spirit and its offense. The Vanguards took themselves out of it midway through the third quarter when they snapped the ball over the punter’s head and out of end zone to give Capistrano Valley a 19-7 lead. Thompson’s second field goal of the game, a 40-yarder, followed the free kick and made it 22-7.

El Modena quarterback Cesar Vasquez played with a sore elbow most of game and finished 10 of 24 for 151 yards with two interceptions. He scored the game’s first touchdown on an 11-yard run on an option.