Esperanza Takes Over Football’s Top Spot
The county’s top-ranked football team was knocked off for the second consecutive week, and now Esperanza--ranked as low as eighth this season--is the new No. 1.
It has been that kind of year for Orange County football. Los Alamitos, ranked No. 1 locally and nationally for most of the season, is No. 2 after spending a week at No. 3.
Mater Dei, which followed Los Alamitos atop the Orange County sportswriters poll, is No. 4.
Although Esperanza has two losses, neither are to county teams. A sampling of area coaches seemed to agree with the sportswriters, who put the crown (and the pressure) on the Aztecs, who were No. 2 last week and knocked Los Alamitos off its perch.
Capistrano Valley’s Dave Brown: “I don’t think the polls are relevant right now, but I’d say Esperanza because they were No. 2. I’d say they are deserving--they beat us.”
Los Alamitos’ John Barnes: “We messed it up . . . so I guess Esperanza. This isn’t sour grapes; I don’t know if there is a best team, and I think this will be a year when [the season] has to be played out to find out who the best team is. But in the voting they [Esperanza] deserve it.”
El Toro’s Mike Milner: “I wouldn’t want the pollsters’ job.”
Esperanza’s Gary Meek was amused that his coaching brethren couldn’t wait to bestow the top ranking on the Aztecs.
“I don’t put stock in the polls,” Meek said. “To me, it’s how a team plays week in and week out, no matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 30. Two weeks ago we were ranked [sixth], and we’re no different a team now than we were then.
“Our goal is winning the league championship; no matter where you finish in the polls, if you win a league title they can’t take that away. And if we can win the Sunset League championship, we must be a pretty good team because it’s a pretty good league.”
And how about Coach Bruce Rollinson of the deposed Monarchs?
“Really, I don’t care,” Rollinson said. “Coming off a loss like we did, obviously, we are not the one.”
Western hasn’t had to worry about the polls until this week. After losses by Mater Dei and University, the Pioneers (8-0) are the only unbeaten team in the county, and they debut at No. 9 in the county’s Top 10.
Part of Western’s credibility problem has been its schedule. Only one opponent thus far has a winning record, Downey Warren (5-3); Pioneer opponents are a combined 17-46-1.
By comparison, Esperanza’s opponents are 48-16.
“We haven’t played teams with good records, but we played pretty good football teams at the time,” Western Coach Jim Howell said before a 38-27 victory over Anaheim on Friday. "[Loara, Rancho Alamitos and Warren] were ranked in their divisions when we played them. . . . We haven’t played the toughest schedule, that’s for sure, but we’ve played competitive teams. I don’t know how good we are, but we’ve been good enough to win.”
Calvary Chapel’s football team improved its overall record to 4-3 by virtue of a forfeit. The Eagles’ 27-6 nonleague loss to Lakewood Mayfair was reversed because the Monsoons used a couple of junior varsity players--who had played earlier in the day--in the fourth quarter of the varsity game. Players are not allowed to play in two games on one day.
“You call off your dogs . . .” Mayfair Coach Mike Fitch said. “We were up 27-0 and trying to reward the kids. There was a rule and I didn’t see it. I blew it.”
Staff writer Martin Henderson contributed to this story.