GARDEN GROVE — With so many offensive and defensive highlights, a spectator might be hard-pressed to draw the line and name one standout performer in the Costa Mesa High football team's 42-7 victory over Santiago on Thursday night at Garden Grove High.
Costa Mesa Coach Wally Grant didn't have to draw the line after his first win as a varsity head coach at his alma mater. After watching the Mustangs rush for 266 yards in the nonleague win, he just named the whole offensive line as standout performers.
Grant rattled off the names of Kevin Salyer, Christian Contreras, Oscar Reyes, Idren Luna, Joe Delgado, Jake Comer, Anthony McCormick and Jake Martin. He knows the offensive line guys don't always get the credit, but he said he challenged them after the Mustangs' physical 34-13 Week Zero loss at Buena Park.
They collectively responded in a big way against Santiago.
“Those guys put together a great game,” Grant said. “Because of that, my skill kids got to do what they got to do. Tonight was a great awakening for my big guys, and I'm so happy for them and very proud.”
Defensively, the Mustangs (1-1) made plays early to help break the game open. Senior Jordan Walden made an interception in the end zone on Santiago's first drive. A play later, Mesa senior running back Mario Smith broke a couple of tackles near the line of scrimmage and suddenly was gone, bursting up the middle for a 77-yard touchdown run.
Santiago (0-1), which came into the game ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll, took just two plays on its next possession to turn the ball over again. The Mustangs' Noah JeyaRajah recovered a fumbled handoff, then senior quarterback Nathan Alvis found Walden on a 13-yard touchdown pass. After two offensive plays, Costa Mesa had a 14-0 lead.
The Mustangs went on to score on each of their five possessions in the first half. Smith had all six of his carries for 149 yards before intermission. Alvis completed five of five passes for 88 yards before halftime, including two touchdown passes to Walden.
Mesa sophomore Oronde Crenshaw added his first varsity touchdown late in the second quarter on a seven-yard touchdown scamper. He added another short touchdown run, this one for five yards, in the third quarter. The large lead in the second half enabled Grant to go with his backup quarterback, Kurt Williams.
“We owe it all to [the linemen],” Walden said. “They opened up some really big holes for our running backs. It was fun to watch all-around; all of our linemen showed their true potential.”
The Mustangs' defense also had fun; Santiago quarterback Richard Sagastume was constantly scrambling. The sophomore scored on a 40-yard scramble midway through the fourth quarter to break up the shutout, but not before he was sacked nine times by Costa Mesa defenders.
That wasn't a good sign for Santiago. Neither was the referee who came up to the press box during halftime, telling the scoreboard operator to prepare for a running clock in the fourth quarter.
The clock did in fact run during the final 12 minutes. Costa Mesa didn't mind, on its way to a dominating victory.
“Mario took a beating last week [32 carries for 136 yards in a loss at Buena Park],” Grant said. “So it was nice for him to not have to play a whole game. [He got to] get his work in and work a sweat up, the same with all my skill guys … It was nice to see the big guys up front do what they're supposed to do, and let my skill kids do what they're supposed to do. I'm impressed all the way around.
“Tonight was a fun night. They executed the way I wanted them to execute, and they competed the way I wanted them to compete.”
Costa Mesa 42, Santiago 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Costa Mesa 14 – 21 – 7 – 0 — 42
Santiago 0 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 7
CM – M.Smith 77 run (Marquez kick), 6:15.
CM – Walden 13 pass from Alvis (Marquez kick), 5:18.
CM – Walden 4 pass from Alvis (Marquez kick), 11:42.
CM – M. Smith 11 run (Marquez kick), 8:57.
CM – Crenshaw 7 run (Marquez kick), 1:35.
CM – Crenshaw 5 run (Marquez kick), 7:37.
Sant – Sagastume 40 run (Trejo kick), 5:31.
CM – M. Smith, 6-149, 2 TDs.
Sant – Sagastume, 18-76, 1 TD.
CM – Alvis, 5-6-0, 94, 2 TDs.
Sant – Sagastume, 4-10-1, 39.
CM – Walden, 3-75, 2 TDs.
Sant – Echaury, 2-25.