Last week I battled the elements to try to decipher what was going on at Tustin High (see photo above), where Villa Park and Tustin engaged in one of the best high school football games I have ever allegedly seen.
Visibility was impossible from the press box, so I went down to the sidelines for the second half where visibility was slightly better, and by better I mean I still didn’t know what I was seeing. Tustin’s field is surrounded by a fence, so there is about 10 feet from the playing field to the fence. There’s not much room to maneuver. I felt like I was covering a football game inside the octagon.
Villa Park running back Meki Tafuna practically willed the Spartans to victory, helping them rally from an early 14-0 deficit to beat Tustin, 35-34, in the CIF-SS Southwest Division semifinals.
Meanwhile, Mr. FryDay Night ran into similar fog issues at Orange Coast College where Edison rallied to beat Foothill, 22-16, in the other Southwest Division semifinal. Mr. FryDay Night didn’t whine and complain about the conditions.
“I challenged the fog to leave Orange Coast College,” Mr. FryDay Night said.
Mr. FryDay Night was already in championship week form, staring down Mother Nature like Clint Eastwood in one of those spaghetti westerns.
Here are some of the quotes you will probably see a lot of during championship week:
“I challenged the … “
The great coaches know how to motivate, and that means you you have to challenge the defense and challenge the offense and challenge the special teams. Sometimes you have to challenge Mother Nature just like Mr. FryDay Night.
“We wanted it more than them.”
This is football fact.
“Nobody believed in us.”
This is also a football fact that everybody believes that nobody believes they had a chance to win a championship.
“I take my hat off to … “
There will be a lot of hats being taken off as a show of respect following the championship games at Angel Stadium.
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS AND FACTORS HEADING INTO THE CHAMPIONSHIPS:
‘The Swami’ might have a scheduling conflict
I dubbed Troy girls basketball coach Roger Anderson “The Swami” after he called Long Beach Poly’s 21-16 upset over Mission Viejo in the quarterfinals. He also said the Jackrabbits would be too much for St. John Bosco of Bellflower in the semifinals and Poly won again, 13-10.
“The Swami” does have a rooting interest. His son, Dalton, plays for Long Beach Poly, but he gave me some insightful analysis both times.
“The Swami” has a big dilemma this week. Troy is ranked No. 2 in the county’s preseason poll and the Warriors play in the prestigious Ladycat Classic at Brea Olinda High this week. The championship game for the Ladycat Classic is on Saturday night. Long Beach Poly plays Mater Dei for the CIF-SS Pac-5 championship on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Angel Stadium.
Hopefully, the Ladycat Classic officials have some flexibility in their scheduling if Troy reaches the finals.
After missing the playoffs for the firt time since 1986 last season, Mater Dei has charged all the way back to reach the Pac-5 finals for the first time since 2002.
A familiar foe awaits the Monarchs in the finals. Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly slugged it out for the CIF-SS Division I championship, which is now the Pac-5, from 1997-99. Long Beach Poly defeated Mater Dei, 28-25, in 1997, the Monarchs avenged the loss with a 33-26 triumph in 1998 and then the two juggernauts battled to a 21-21 draw in 1999.
I’m expecting another epic confrontation in the latest chapter of this rivalry.
BTW, Long Beach Poly is 15-3-2 in championship games and Mater Dei is 7-4-1 in the finals.
Operation Avenge Me vs. Deja vu
Villa Park has one loss on its record this season, a 27-7 defeat against Edison on Sept. 6. The Spartans get a chance to avenge that loss when they face the Chargers in a rematch for the Southwest Division championship on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Angel Stadium.
It’s always hard to beat the same team twice in the same season.
Can Villa Park implement Operation Avenge Me? Will it be deja vu and another victory for Edison?
I was at that game on Sept. 6 and Edison manhandled the Spartans. I can’t imagine that same level of domination from the Chargers in the rematch. I mean, Tafuna is a force for the Spartans.
Tafuna won’t be held to 64 yards on 19 carries like in the first meeting. Edison’s defense is nasty.
I’m not quite ready to make my pick. I’ll hold of until the OCVarsity Gridiron show (Cheap pop).
More championship stats
Edison is 3-3-1 in championship games, Villa Park is 1-2 in championship games, Corona del Mar is 3-0 in championship games and Garden Grove is 1-2 in championship games. Edison’s last trip to the finals was in 2009 when it lost to Servite, 16-6, in the Pac-5 final. …
The Chargers haven’t won a championship since sharing the Big-Five title with Long Beach Poly after a 14-14, tie in 1985. …
Villa Park hasn’t been to the finals since it beat Los Alamitos, 21-0, in the 1977 Southern Division title game. …
Corona del Mar beat Beckman, 14-13, in last year’s Southern Division championship game. …
Garden Grove will be playing in its third Southern Division final in the past four year when it faces CdM on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Angel Stadium. …
Garden Grove beat Beckman, 31-30, in the 2010 finals.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES SCHEDULE
Edison vs. Villa Park on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Angel Stadium
Garden Grove vs. Corona del Mar on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Angel Stadium
Long Beach Poly vs. Mater Dei on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Angel Stadium
Follow me on Twitter @LosOCVarsity.
Here’s footage of Villa Park coach Dusan Ancich getting his players fired up: