ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: PREP EXTRA : Western Stays Perfect by Beating Brea
The most overlooked football team in Orange County accomplished something Thursday night that no other team in the county can stake a claim to: an undefeated regular season.
Seventh-ranked Western, getting stronger as the game went on, put the finishing touches on a 10-0 regular seasonwith a 28-6 Orange League victory over visiting Brea Olinda.
Victories over Brea by the Western junior varsity and freshman teams earlier in the day also resulted in 10-0 records.
No one at Western can remember the last time, if ever, the Pioneer varsity finished undefeated, let alone when all three teams were perfect. But the Pioneers’ final records seemed a moot point as a surprisingly subdued crowd of about 900 celebrated shortly after the final gun sounded.
And things were just about as calm on the field afterward, until Western Coach Jim Howell, a 17-year veteran, revealed that he will most likely step down when the playoffs are through.
“It’s not a firm decision yet, but it’s a pretty good chance,” he said. “I’m really pleased with all the teams, including the lower divisions. That says a lot about Western because whoever is coaching here in the future sure is going to have some fine kids.”
For Brea Olinda, the loss might have reduced the season to a coin flip. If Valencia defeats Anaheim tonight, the Wildcats will end up in a three-way tie for second place with Valencia and Savanna. Savanna defeated Magnolia, 34-0, Thursday.
Brea Olinda took a 6-0 lead on back-to-back field goals by Scott Davis in the first quarter, but then Western’s Mike Mueller struck back. He took the kickoff after Davis’ second field goal at the eight-yard line , burst threw a giant hole at the 20-yard line, then swerved up the Western sideline avoiding Brea Olinda defensive back Mike Beamer at the 50. Beamer caught Mueller at the Brea Olinda 10 with a shoestring tackle attempt. But Mueller regained his footing and scored.
Mueller’s 35-yard touchdown run with 8:08 left in the second quarter was equally pretty. He ran up the middle, cut to his left and went down the sideline after getting a good downfield block from Kevin Hatton.
Quarterback Dean Chambers, who averages 18-yards per completion, had a sub-par night. He passed for 119 yards, but completed only seven of 20 attempts. His pass into the flat to David Bell with four seconds left in the half, however, turned into a 62-yard scoring play when Bell spun free of would-be tackler Chad Cooper at the 50, cut to his left and went down the sideline untouched.
Chambers’ 13-yard scoring pass to Vince Branstetter halfway through the third quarter sealed Brea Olinda’s fate.
Wildcat running back Jerome Owens spent most of the night racking up big yardage between the 20-yard lines. He carried 20 times for 170 yards.