HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS : SOUTHERN SECTION : The Brotherhood in the Backfield
Their jersey numbers signify that they are the fourth and fifth children of Tomas and Maria Sanchez, but Topi and Teohua Sanchez are second to none in their importance to the St. Bonaventure High football team.
In their second year starting in the same backfield, Topi, a senior tailback, and Teohua, a junior quarterback, have given the Seraphs’ football fortunes a boost.
St. Bonaventure finished third in the Tri-Valley League despite a pair of narrow league losses and is ranked ninth in Southern Section Division IX. The team plays a first-round playoff game tonight at Cantwell-Sacred Heart, which is ranked 10th in the division.
Teohua (TAY-oh-wa), 5 feet 11 and 171 pounds, is a calm signal-caller who has completed 154 of 245 passes for 1,626 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has completed 61% of his passes, the highest percentage among the area’sSouthern Section quarterbacks with at least 800 yards passing.
Topi, whose full name is Topiltzin (TOE-peel-zeen), is a tailback who might as well be a battering ram. His 5-foot-7, 194-pound frame is nearly as strong as his determination to run through players up to 100 pounds heavier.
In 232 carries he has gained 1,601 yards and scored 24 touchdowns, both St. Bonaventure single-season records. He is fourth among area Southern Section players in rushing yardage and second in scoring with 166 points.
Although the brothers’ accomplishments are worthy of discussion, they tend to remain tight-lipped when prodded about their skills, and any other topics, for that matter.
“Topiltzin is introspective and silent in demeanor, but he lets his actions speak,” said Tomas Sanchez, a history professor at Moorpark College. “Teohua is somewhat more outgoing. He likes to lead and direct.”
Like his brother, Teohua started on the varsity as a sophomore. Directing a team of older players was not an easy task but receiver Pepe Villasenor, Teohua’s primary target, said his friend learned his role quickly and has expanded it this fall.
“Last year there were a lot of seniors who took over the team and [Teohua] was in their shadows,” said Villasenor, who has caught 54 passes for 569 yards and four touchdowns. “This year he’s more of a leader. He gives pep talks and gets on people when they goof around at practice.”
Teohua learned his position in several ways. As a freshman, he played quarterback on the junior varsity and also trailed after St. Bonaventure Coach Jon Mack, holding Mack’s headset cord during varsity games and getting a close-up look at the do’s and don’ts of playing quarterback.
“I got to see the field from [Mack’s] point of view,” Teohua said. “How the line worked, why it’s important to be aware of things. He used to yell at me, ‘Don’t you ever do that when you get in there!’, if things went bad.”
Teohua was anointed the varsity quarterback during spring practice of his freshman year. To prepare, he watched countless hours of film from previous St. Bonaventure seasons. This year, he has been greatly aided by the presence of assistant Tim Gutierrez, who was a Southern Section record-setting quarterback at Santa Clara in the late 1980s and a former starter at San Diego State.
“Tim sees the field even when he’s on the sidelines and he calms me down when I’m getting frustrated,” said Teohua of Gutierrez, who helped install an overhauled, college-level offense. “In films, watching one quarter with him may take an hour because he’s so disciplined and everything has to be perfect.”
While Teohua has tapped several outside sources for improvement, Topi has relied primarily on his own iron will. He played his entire sophomore season at fullback with a broken thumb, was switched to tailback as a senior and responded to an increasing workload with hours of physical exertion.
“He’s the hardest worker ever,” Teohua said of Topi, who has played junior varsity basketball and run track for conditioning purposes. “He can’t stand it when people quit on their sets in the weight room, and he and I always push each other.”
The brothers, who are 360 days apart in age and who have shared a room since their earliest days, are close off the field. They share a circle of friends and attend Mass and pregame prayers together. And if neither is loud, brash or self-promoting, so be it. Their coaches and teammates are well aware of their value.
“When I first met them they weren’t very talkative and they’re still low-key,” said Sam Benner, part of a St. Bonaventure line that averages 6-2, 245 pounds. “But when Topi or Teohua talks, you listen. They’re very cautious with their words but what they’re saying has great importance to them and they say what they mean.”
A look at tonight’s other playoff games. Games start at 7:30 unless noted:
Pasadena (5-5) at Antelope Valley (9-1): The top-seeded and defending Division II champion Antelopes are breathing a mild sigh of relief now that multipurpose back Trymon Redick has been cleared to play after he was declared academically ineligible on Monday. Redick is one of several offensive weapons for the Golden League champions.
Running back Jermaine Lewis has 1,734 yards and 22 touchdowns, and a school-record 4,713 yards in three seasons. Poor grades claimed fullback Justin Reinier (410 yards, six touchdowns), but Ken Nelson (445 yards) will help pick up the slack. Quarterback Bobby Brown has thrown for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns. Top offensive lineman Michael Deagon is nursing a sprained ankle.
Pasadena, the No. 3 team from the Pacific League, qualified for the playoffs by upsetting Muir, 14-7, last week. Chidi Iwuoma has rushed for 651 yards and five touchdowns and has 11 receptions for 269 and two scores. Quarterback Jamal Strong has completed 55 of 117 for 808 yards and six touchdowns.
Santa Monica (6-4) vs. Saugus (5-4) at Canyon High: Coach Dan Escalera has transformed a Santa Monica team that was 0-10 two seasons ago, but the Vikings will face a bitter team in Saugus. The Centurions didn’t expect to get blown out, 47-7, by Hart in last week’s Foothill League championship game.
Quarterbacks Kevin Carrasco and Chris Kobe have combined for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns, but they need to bounce back from a combined eight-for-29 performance against Hart. The Centurions are smarting from the loss of defensive end Derek Lyons, a leading tackler who had a team-high 12 sacks before he suffered a broken right thumb in practice last week. Receiver Chad Hilton and linebacker Kevin Giberson are hobbled with leg injuries.
Santa Monica, the Bay League’s No. 2 team, has come from behind to win four games and gave champion Hawthorne a scare, losing, 26-24, after trailing, 21-7. Juniors Dylen Smith and Keyon Smith (no relation) share time at quarterback in a wing-T offense. Greg Morena (736 yards, 10 touchdowns) leads the ground attack. On defense, Bobby Pacheco and Jamaal Cole have a combined 13 sacks.
Canyon (5-4) at Downey (9-1): Facing the fourth-seeded team in the playoffs, the Cowboys likely will be at disadvantage in size and speed. And they will be without a key player: Ahjeron Palmer, a senior who has played quarterback, running back and receiver but is now academically ineligible.
Taking Palmer’s place at quarterback is Rick Thomas (17 of 38 for 270 yards and three touchdowns). Shaun Kelso (763 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns) and Sammy Morfin (357 yards, four touchdowns) will carry the rushing load.
The San Gabriel Valley League champion Vikings have big-play potential but also have been inconsistent. Quarterback Ariel Guitron, who has passed for more than 800 yards, can be hot or cold.
Canyon must stop Dorae Lewis, a top college recruit who has rushed for 1,539 yards and 18 touchdowns. “I think we’ve a pretty good chance to upset them,” Canyon Coach Larry Mohr said. “We just can’t get anybody hurt.”
Inglewood (7-3) vs. Hart (8-2) at College of the Canyons: Five-time Foothill League champion Hart plays at a higher level than most of its opponents. The third-seeded Indians average 38.8 points while allowing 12.6 and have held six opponents to seven points or fewer. After the Indians lost to Antelope Valley in last year’s Division II final, nothing short of a section title in ’95 will satisfy them.
Steve McKeon has passed for 2,387 yards and 24 touchdowns, and rushed for 317 yards and two scores. Ted Iacenda has rushed for 1,372 yards, averages 8.7 yards per carry and has 24 touchdowns. Iacenda has 84 touchdowns in three varsity seasons. McKeon’s three top receivers, Cody Joyce (30-722), J.B. Nelson (31-540) and Kevin McLaughlin (24-513), have caught 20 of his scoring passes.
Hart’s defense, led by linebacker Marc Zimmerman (four interceptions) must stop quarterback Damien Ward, who has passed for 2,005 yards and 17 touchdowns. Inglewood’s offense, which operates out of a shotgun formation with four receivers, resembles Hart’s run-and-shoot.
Dominguez (3-7) at Quartz Hill (8-2): Quartz Hill’s reward for losing only to Antelope Valley, 27-0, and unbeaten Kennedy, 13-7, is the toughest matchup in the playoffs. The Dons were 10-0 on the field, but an ineligible player, receiver Vincent Starks, cost them seven forfeits.
The Rebels must get strong performances from Jeremiah Harris (1,286 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns), Brian Woodworth (863 yards passing, 10 touchdowns) and tight end Andy Rethi (32-449, seven). Jacob Waasdorp (nine sacks) and a Rebel defense that allows 8.7 points a game must neutralize the Dons’ speed.
Dominguez is led by 6-4, 215-pound quarterback Jason Thomas, one of eight starting sophomores, who has thrown for more than 900 yards and rushed for 638 out of a wing-T attack. Adrian Jenkins has 1,068 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Linebacker Michael Balloue (106 tackles) and lineman Terris Sutton (nine sacks) lead the defense.
St. Francis (7-3) at Newbury Park (10-0): Newbury Park brings the state’s top passing offense against a St. Francis team that has notched five shutouts.
Panther junior Chris Czernek has passed for 3,213 yards and 34 touchdowns and has four receivers with at least 39 catches. Newbury Park leads Division III teams with an average of 36 points.
St. Francis ended a three-game losing streak by defeating Bishop Montgomery, 22-15, last week. The defense is led by hard-hitting linebacker Darin Maxwell, who also plays fullback.
Quarterback John Carnevali (1,331 passing yards, 12 touchdowns) and running back Robert Milton (846 rushing yards, nine touchdowns) give St. Francis a balanced attack.
Newbury Park also fields one of the area’s top defenses behind identical twin linebackers Brock and Brant Diediker, and safeties Eddie Patterson and Justin Vint.
Serra (6-4) at Thousand Oaks (8-2): Injuries continue to bedevil Thousand Oaks. Tailback Brandon Jackson probably won’t play for the third consecutive week because of a separated shoulder. Jud Southwell, a two-way starter at fullback and linebacker, is questionable because of a back injury and the Lancers’ top defensive player, middle linebacker Greg Gallup, is out because of a knee injury.
Scott McEwan passed for a career-high 255 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 37-27 loss to Newbury Park, but he also threw five interceptions. The 6-3 junior had thrown only four before that game.
“Scott felt like he had to pick up the slack without Brandon, but he needs to get back to playing within himself,” Coach Mike Kelly said.
Serra finished third in the Mission League behind a defense that allows only 12.6 points a game. Linebackers Jason Steen (6-4, 220) and Jashon Sykes (6-3, 205) are the unit’s strength.
Junior fullback Joe Hall (6-3, 240) and quarterback Darnell Lacy (6-3, 181) spearhead Serra’s run-oriented offense.
Westlake (5-4-1) at Bell Gardens (8-1-1): Westlake, the third-place representative from the Marmonte League, must shake off the effects of a stunning 28-22 loss to lowly Agoura and prepare for the top defensive team in Division III.
Bell Gardens, the Almont League champion, has allowed only 78 points. An advantage Westlake might have is that Bell Gardens has not faced many teams that pass well.
Quarterback Casey Preston, a junior who won the starting job four weeks ago, will be looking for senior receiver Jason Victor (47 catches, 832 yards, seven touchdowns). Westlake tailback Jamal Harris has rushed for 1,105 yards, but has been ineffective against aggressive defensive teams that overwhelm Westlake’s blocking.
Bell Gardens averages 25 points on the efforts of running back David York, who is both a running and receiving threat.
Buena (5-4-1) at Notre Dame (10-0): Top-seeded Notre Dame opens defense of its Division III championship with a 19-game winning streak.
Notre Dame was tested in last week’s 19-15 victory over Chaminade. But the Knights showed they are capable of winning the close ones as well as the blow-outs--which many of their games have been over the past two seasons.
Balance is the key to Notre Dame’s attack. Quarterback Ryan Bowne, the school’s career passing leader, has thrown for 1,604 yards and 22 touchdowns. A starter last season, Bowne knows how to win and he showed it by engineering a 92-yard game-winning touchdown drive against Chaminade in the final minutes.
Running back Alvan Arzu (990 yards, 12 touchdowns) is the team’s top runner, but fullback Justin Fargas (436 yards, six touchdowns) has played an increased role in recent weeks.
Buena, third in the Channel League, is making its seventh playoff appearance in Coach Rick Scott’s eighth season. The Bulldogs also are balanced, running and passing behind a strong offensive line.
Quarterback Glenn Dudley has passed for 1,625 yards and seven touchdowns, and running back Josh Cross has rushed for 946 yards and 19 touchdowns. T.J. Stafford leads Buena with 51 catches for 828 yards.
Alhambra (5-5) at Chaminade (9-1): Chaminade, second in the Mission League, relies on the speed of Jason Giovannettone and quarterback Jason Zdenek--on both sides of the ball.
Giovannettone, a senior tailback with a slashing running style, has rushed for 1,160 and 17 touchdowns. Zdenek is equally dangerous as a passer (798 yards, 13 touchdowns) and a runner (403 yards, four touchdowns).
Alhambra, second in the Almont League, relies on the punishing running of junior Adam Tate, who has rushed for 974 yards and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Gilbert Castaneda has passed for 841 yards and 11 touchdowns. Castaneda divides completions between Vernon Goodwin and Phil Huertas. Goodwin has 20 receptions for 358 yards and five touchdowns. Huertas has 20 catches for 349 yards and four touchdowns. Huertas also is the team’s second-leading rusher with 215 yards.
Harvard-Westlake (4-6) vs. Montclair Prep (10-0) at Valley College: Montclair Prep is the defending Division IX champion, and Harvard advanced to the semifinals in 1994.
Montclair Prep’s Akil Anderson, the latest in a long line of talented tailbacks for the Mounties, has rushed for 1,032 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’s not the only capable ballcarrier. Demetris Green has rushed for 532 yards and five touchdowns, and Carlease Clark has contributed 388 yards and six touchdowns.
Harvard, winless in its first five games, appears to have momentum. Tailback Abed Abusaleh, who has rushed for 1,116 yards and 11 touchdowns, has thrown the ball out of the option six times, completing four for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Nordhoff (5-5) at Atascadero (10-0): Nordhoff faces a tall task in trying to upend top-seeded Atascadero, which defeated the Rangers in last year’s Division IX title game.
The Rangers, who struggled on offense when healthy, will be without starting center Greg Miller (injured shoulder), backup quarterback Matt Cresto (thumb) and starting tailback Greg Coleman (shoulder). Fullback Russell Farrar (834 yards, seven touchdowns) will move to tailback and Rusty Perry will play fullback. Farrar and Perry also start at linebacker.
Jim Musick starts at quarterback for Nordhoff, the No. 3 team from the Frontier League. He has completed 38 of 87 passes for 398 yards and a touchdown.
Los Padres League champion Atascadero, which has won five Southern Section titles in the past 17 years, dominates opponents with a line that averages 6-foot-3, 254 pounds, senior quarterback Danny Miranda has passed for 987 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior tailback Allan Bell has gained 1,172 but is out because of an ankle injury. The Greyhounds allow 7.4 points a game.
Calabasas (7-3) vs. Cabrillo (7-3) at Lompoc High: Calabasas and Cabrillo meet for the first time since 1989, when Cabrillo won a regular-season contest, 40-6. The Coyotes are the Frontier League’s No. 2 team; the Conquistadores are the No. 2 team from the Los Padres League.
Each team has a solid defense and features a primary running back. Calabasas pounds opponents with sophomore Robby Coppola (746 yards and nine touchdowns in 129 carries) while Cabrillo relies on senior Jason Porter (793 yards and six touchdowns in 142 carries). Cabrillo’s David Powell has passed for 831 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior Scott Quigley has thrown for 1,189 yards and 11 touchdowns. Zak Lovenson has 22 catches for 501 yards and five touchdowns.
Cabrillo, which plays six two-way starters, has made the playoffs eight of the past 10 years.
Paso Robles (7-3) at Moorpark (7-3): After defeating Calabasas on the road to claim their second Frontier League title in three years, the Musketeers return home to face a higher-ranked team.
The Bearcats, No. 3 in the Los Padres League and ranked fifth in the division, feature quarterback Gabe Canaday (88 of 195, 1,133 yards, nine touchdowns, seven interceptions) and tailback Brian England (1,127 yards, 11 touchdowns, 6.6 yards per carry), both seniors.
Moorpark, ranked eighth in the division, counters with multitalented quarterback Bryan Paul has passed for 1,533 yards and 13 touchdowns, and rushed for 334 yards and three scores. He also punts and returns kicks.
Tailback Michael Aguilar has gained 488 yards and scored four touchdowns in 103 carries, and receiver David Burns has caught 48 passes for 730 yards and eight touchdowns. The defense is keyed by hard-rushing end Cadge Clayton and safety Dan LaFleur.
St. Bonaventure (7-3) at Cantwell-Sacred Heart (7-2): Though St. Bonaventure was third in the Tri-Valley League and Cantwell-Sacred Heart finished in a three-way tie for first in the Camino Real League, the visiting Seraphs are ranked ninth in the division, one spot ahead of the Cardinals.
Quarterback Teohua Sanchez (154 of 254, 1,626, 13 touchdowns, five interceptions) and his brother, tailback Topi Sanchez (1,601 yards and 24 touchdowns in 232 carries) are crucial to the St. Bonaventure offense. Tight ends David Bernal and Joe Byrum are good receivers as is diminutive Pepe Villasenor (54 catches, 569 yards, four touchdowns).
Cantwell-Sacred Heart starts Willie Galbraith (82 of 119, 1,085 yards, 10 touchdowns, three interceptions) at quarterback and Jose Aleman (1,014 yards and eight touchdowns in 142 carries) at tailback.
The Cardinals lost to Harvard-Westlake, 15-13; St. Bonaventure defeated the Wolverines, 27-10.
Bishop Union (6-4) vs. L.A. Baptist (5-5) at Alemany High: L.A. Baptist, on a five-game winning streak, is peaking at the right time.
Sophomore quarterback Peter Dirksen has emerged as an offensive threat, adding balance to an offense that for much of the season has relied on 1,128-yard rusher Chris Ross.
The Knights’ defense has been stingy as of late, allowing 10.8 points over the last five games.
Bishop Union (6-4), ranked eighth in Division X, features a wing-T offense that amassed nearly 3,000 rushing yards. Fullback Pete Yerkes (1,249 yards) leads the charge.
The Broncos scored plenty, averaging 40 points a game, but also allowed 29.
Kilpatrick (5-5) at Kern Valley (10-0): There is no mistaking about how these two teams will come at each other. Both teams feature run-based offenses and throw only when absolutely necessary.
Since switching to an option-style offense five games ago, the Mustangs (5-5) have attempted only 18 passes, but have rushed for 1,594 yards. Running backs Larry Ford and Koron Allen have combined for 1,470 yards.
Kern Valley (10-0), ranked second in Division X, is led by twin brothers Tim and Terry Hurley who have more than 1,800 rushing yards between them.
The Broncs have allowed 10 points a game and only 926 rushing yards.
Big Bear (8-2) vs. Village Christian (7-3) at Kennedy High, 7 p.m.: Village Christian has managed to remain in the Division X top 10 all season despite numerous injuries.
Currently ranked ninth, the Crusaders don’t have a lot of team speed or size, and lack a game-breaking star, but they are masters of execution and don’t make mental mistakes.
They will attack Big Bear with junior running back Aaron Funk (748 yards). Quarterback Chris Coleman has thrown for 11 touchdowns.
Big Bear is ranked fifth in the division, and held the top ranking for two weeks at the beginning of October.
The Bears play tough defense, holding opponents to 15 points or fewer seven times. Quarterback Rob Benson (1,493 yards passing and 21 touchdowns) leads a multidimensional offense.
Dana Haddad, Vince Kowalick, Michael Lazarus, Paige A. Leech, Tris Wykes and Peter Yoon wrote the game previews.