Change of Strategy Has Worked Well for Orange Coast : Football: Pirates meet Saddleback in Mission Conference showdown today.
Orange Coast figured to be one of the better passing teams in the Mission Conference at the start of the season. But two months later, the Pirates have become the best rushing team, averaging 209 yards per game.
The transformation started a few days before the opening game, when wide receiver Chris Jackson, who is featured on the OCC media guide cover along with quarterback Matt Sauk, transferred to Washington State.
After starting the season with a three-game losing streak, Orange Coast turned to the run. The results have been impressive.
Orange Coast (4-4, 3-1) has won four of the last five and is tied for second with Saddleback (5-3, 3-1) in the Central Division. The teams, which meet at 1 p.m. today at OCC, trail first-place Rancho Santiago by a game with two left to play.
“We’re just happy to be playing in a game of this magnitude,” OCC Coach Bill Workman said.
William League rushed for 224 yards in a 27-23 victory over Fullerton last Saturday and has gone for an Orange County-best 893 yards in 124 carries this season. Quincy Wimbush has 319 yards and Chet Walker has added 240.
The emphasis on running has meant a secondary role for Sauk. He was on pace this season to become the college’s all-time leading passer, but it appears he will have to settle for second place.
Sauk has 2,889 yards passing and needs only eight more to move ahead of Dave White (1974-75). Alvin White (1971-72) is the all-time lead with 3,425 yards.
In other Central Division games:
Fullerton (2-5-1, 2-2) vs. Rancho Santiago (6-2, 4-0), Santa Ana Stadium, 1 p.m.--This is the 72nd meeting of the oldest community college rivalry in California. Rancho Santiago won last year, 34-7, to take a 34-33-4 lead. The Dons have won seven of the last 10.
This season, Rancho Santiago has won five games in a row and can clinch a tie for the divisional title with a victory. But the Dons will have to do it without quarterback Mark Fausto, who was ejected in the victory over Southwestern and must sit out.
Mike Jacot has continued his consistently strong running and has 748 yards and eight touchdowns. Eric Hannah has thrown for 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Riverside (1-7, 1-3) vs. Golden West (4-5, 2-3), Orange Coast, 7 p.m.--A Golden West victory would give first-year coach Dennis Dixon a .500 season. Riverside is last in total offense at 242 yards per game including only 76 passing.