The words were about Thanksgiving, and one got the impression Irvine’s coaches and players meant every word.
Coach Terry Henigan told his players how thankful he was for them, and for taking the coaching staff along for a really great ride after its 9-7 victory over top-seeded Lakewood Mayfair in the Southern Section Division VI second round Friday.
And Jessob Reisbeck, the kicker who booted a 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter after missing field goal and point-after attempts spoke of the same thing.
“I had such good warmups and I’ve kicked a 50-yarder in practice,” Reisbeck said. “I was pretty confident going in. But this is Thanksgiving, and I’m just thankful the coaches gave me another chance.”
Quarterback Mike Ricci was emotional after the upset. “I’m crying like a little girl,” said Ricci, Irvine’s 5-foot-6 1/2-inch quarterback. “This is the greatest feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Henigan says his team was justly rewarded. “This week of practice was the best this year,” Henigan said, stopping just short of calling it the best week of practice any of his teams have ever had. “Sometimes you get rewarded for things like that. It doesn’t always work out that way.”
Reisbeck, who also played cornerback against Mayfair, said his team wasn’t intimidated by facing Michael Williams, the Monsoon running back who went into the game with 45 touchdowns and 1,912 yards rushing. Williams gained 69 yards in 25 carries.
“Honestly, that doesn’t surprise me,” Reisbeck said of the stranglehold on Williams. “We’ve played against Andre Stewart [of Newport Harbor] and Matt Grootegoed [of Mater Dei]. Our linebackers and defensive front are so strong, I think it’s an advantage when we play a running team.”
Irvine defensive coordinator J.C. Clark called the strategy of putting two cornerbacks, including Reisbeck, alone on Monsoon receivers and committing everyone else to the run, “risky.”
“For the size of our players, this is the most impressive performance I’ve seen as a coach,” said Clark, a coach for 17 years, 14 in the Suburban League facing Mayfair. “Those kids left it all on the field.”
Quarterback Mike Sanford set a school record for completions in Los Alamitos’ 30-23 double-overtime victory over Los Angeles Loyola Friday.
Sanford completed 25 passes (in 37 attempts) for 246 yards and two touchdowns, both in overtime.
“Our quarterback has been unbelievable the last three weeks,” Coach John Barnes said. “Sean Stein had 24 [completions in 1996] and we’ve had some others in the low 20s. But 25 completions in a high school game is a lot of completions.”
Sanford had not even attempted 25 passes in any of the three previous weeks. He was nine of 21 for 93 yards in a 28-0 victory over Lakewood, 14 of 22 for 113 yards (one interception) in a 28-12 victory over Marina, and nine of 15 for 209 yards (one interception) and one touchdown in a 44-7 victory over Huntington Beach.
Sanford’s achievement got overshadowed by the other school record set Friday: Chris Kluwe’s 60-yard field goal at the end of regulation, forcing overtime. It was a county record.
“He kicks off into the end zone. He’s had a 60-plus yard punt. It wasn’t crazy,” Barnes said of Kluwe’s kick. “I knew he had the leg to get it close, and we didn’t have any choice.”
Barnes said the victory was one of the 10 best in his coaching career. “The 8-0 CIF victory [over Esperanza in 1991] was probably the best,” Barnes said.
Bill Friedrich quit as football coach at Magnolia on Monday, citing personal reasons, according to Sentinel Athletic Director Robert Rishel.
In 10 seasons, Friedrich had a record of 23-77-2. Previously, he had been coach at Bellflower St. John Bosco.
Rishel said he was sorry he had to accept the resignation and hoped to hire “a suitable replacement as soon as possible.”
Times staff writer Paul McLeod contributed to this report.