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ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL / PREP EXTRA : Fountain Valley Can’t Catch Bachhuber--or Esperanza

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Esperanza linebacker Brian Bachhuber was still perplexed long after the Aztecs had begun celebrating Friday’s 25-8 victory over Fountain Valley at Huntington Beach High School.

Just where were the fast guys?

Now there are things Bachhuber does well, but getting from here-to-there quickly is not among them. So he was still flabbergasted at going so far, so slow.

It was Bachhuber’s 71-yard interception return that shook the Aztecs out of their doldrums. It left them with a 22-8 lead, putting Esperanza on track to clinch at least a tie for the Sunset League title. But Bachhuber still had to ask, where were the fast guys?

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“I was really tired and couldn’t believe there wasn’t someone to tackle me,” said Bachhuber, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior. “I kept looking behind me. I figured someone had to be catching up with me.”

Not him, not the Aztecs, not this year. At this point there is little left for Esperanza to prove.

Bachhuber, who intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble, led a defense that carried Esperanza to its latest milestone.

Two weeks ago, the Aztecs (7-2, 4-0 in league) stepped out from Los Alamitos’ Sequoia-sized shadow. They then climbed to the top of the Orange County poll last week. A week from now, they can wrap up an undefeated league season with a victory over Edison.

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But just for a moment, it was time to admire the accomplishments in hand. In the past, it has been close-but-no-cigar for the Aztecs, who finished second to Los Alamitos the past three seasons. More of the same was expected this year, as the Griffins were the county’s top-ranked team for six weeks.

“I’ve felt like [Los Alamitos Coach] John Barnes’ doormat the last few years,” Esperanza Gary Meek said. “We were close last year. We worked hard to get there this year.”

It was Bachhuber who put in the time Friday.

His first interception set up David Parrish’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Pat Swanson, that wiped out a 6-0 Fountain Valley lead in the second quarter. His second took the fight out of the Barons (6-3, 2-2), who were overwhelmed on offense.

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The Aztecs limited Fountain Valley’s Robert Alvarez to 29 yards rushing. Alvarez had gained 836 entering the game. Forced to throw, quarterback Mitch Ryerson passed for 181 yards. He also threw four passes that were intercepted, twice by Bachhuber and twice by Ryan Wilkins.

“I have never intercepted a pass in my life,” Bachhuber said.

Said Meek: “I think he has athlete of the week potential.”

There were other candidates.

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Defensive lineman Sean Jarne pressured Ryerson into two interceptions and was the big reason Alvarez found little room to run.

Running back J.B. Guffey gained 126 yards, his second consecutive 100-yard game.


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