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Rancho Alamitos, Kosi Agree on Victory

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Running back Leo Kosi, offensive lineman Shaun Sandoval and Coach Doug Case didn’t totally agree on how Rancho Alamitos arrived at a 21-0 victory over Sunny Hills in the second round of the Southern Section Division VIII football playoffs Friday night.

Kosi gave credit to his offensive line for most of his 231 rushing yards and three touchdowns at Buena Park High. But Sandoval was modest about the line’s performance.

Fact is, each played a major role in the win, which set a school record for most victories in a season.

It also propelled the Vaqueros (12-0) into next week’s semifinals against Pacifica.

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Kosi had 33 carries despite nagging injuries, which he iced after the game.

He scored on runs of eight, three and 34 yards, the latter on a trap block on his 29th carry. He burst off left tackle, cut up the sideline and outran defenders the final 15 yards.

Kosi was in on all but 15 of the Vaqueros’ 48 plays and accounted for all but 44 yards of his team’s total offense.

Sunny Hills got down to the Vaquero 25-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but a clipping call stalled the drive.

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“Kosi worked really hard tonight,” Sandoval said. “I thought the line did a good job but it could have been better. He worked his butt off. He put them away by breaking all those tackles.”

Case had a different point of view. While praising his defense for shutting down the Lancers, he also noted the offensive line has been overlooked all year.

“This was just another average Leo night,” he said. “Our offensive line has been working hard all year. We have four or five juniors out there and those kids are just getting bigger and stronger and faster. Wait until next year.”

Kosi also paid tribute to the line, which consisted of Sandoval, Robert Mitchell, Cesar Quijas, Tony Castaneda and Ruben Amaya.

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If there was any consolation for Sunny Hills, it was that its defense, which had given up only 82 points all season, held one of the county’s highest-scoring teams to only three touchdowns. And after the Lancers held Rancho Alamitos on downs on its first two possessions, there was a lot of optimism in the air.

But Sunny Hills couldn’t move the ball, either.

“This game really belonged to our defense,” Case said. “It really stepped up. We have a lot of weapons, but any time you can get great field position that leads to victory.”

Vaquero defensive end Mike Saumell recovered a fumble by Sunny Hills running back Kevin Haiola at the Lancer 46-yard line midway through the first quarter. Kosi did the rest, going the distance in eight plays and scoring the winning touchdown from eight yards.

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