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Prep football: No. 1 priority

September 28, 2000

Barry Faulkner

NEWPORT BEACH - Though it's Ocean View High the Costa Mesa football

team has on its mind when the two hook up Friday at 7 p.m. for a

nonleague battle at Newport Harbor High, perhaps Brea Olinda should also

occupy the Mustangs' thoughts this week.

It was, after all, Brea's stumble last week, a 35-7 loss to Diamond

Bar, which allowed the Mustangs to ascend from No. 2 to No. 1 in the CIF

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Southern Section Division IX rankings.

Should Coach Jerry Howell's 3-0 squad fixate on its top ranking, it

could be knocked from the unbeaten ranks just as easily as Brea was.

Overconfidence, however, should not be a problem for Mesa, which

required a 22-yard Luis Avalos field goal with 11 seconds left last week

to defeat winless Westminster, 24-22.

"(The late field goal) lets our kids know we can meet that kind of

challenge, but I'd just as soon it not come to that," Howell said.

The challenge this week for Costa Mesa includes some talented Seahawk

skill players, including junior quarterback Patrick Campbell.

Campbell, a star receiver as a sophomore (a school

single-season-record 64 catches for more than 700 yards and eight

touchdowns) has thrown for 422 yards and two TDs this fall. He has

completed 25 of 69 with just one interception and is also, Howell said, a

running threat.

"He scrambles everywhere, so we're going to have to do a good job of

getting after him," Howell said. "We have to keep him from scrambling,

because if he has time to throw, he'll hurt us."

Campbell's prime target is 6-foot-3 senior Phillip Smith, who has 11

catches for 183 yards.

The Seahawks' ground game is led by running back Jason Rhoads, who has

243 yards on 52 carries.

The Mustangs, who have given up more yards passing than rushing

(452-297), figure to be without starting cornerback Josh Strickland, who

suffered a thigh bruise last week. Senior Billy Jordan will make his

first varsity start in place of Strickland.

Junior Nick Cabico, the other starting cornerback, who also went down

last week with a concussion, is penciled in to start this week on

defense.

Cabico, the team's leading ground gainer (220 yards on 29 carries),

will not start on offense, giving way to sophomore Keola Asuega.

Asuega, who started at fullback last week, rushed for 158 yards and

three TDs against Westminster. He has 198 yards on 38 carries for the

season.

Additional ground weapons for the Mustangs are Alvin Nguyen (191 yards

and five TDs), Jason Hurley (143 yards and two TDs) and fullback Daniel

Hunter (139 yards).

If Ocean View (2-1) stacks the line to try to stop the ground attack

which has averaged nearly 290 yards thus far, senior quarterback Patrick

Hulliger will take aim at padding his impressive passing numbers. The

left-hander has completed 27 of 48 for 346 yards and two touchdowns.

Hulliger's favorite target has been senior Lenny Lukela, who has 10

catches for 110 yards.

Mesa's per-game scoring average of 41.3 points, is second best in

Orange County and, Howell said, Offensive Coordinator Tom Baldwin has

guaranteed him at least 31 points this week.

Ocean View, however, has only given up 30 points to its first three

foes combined.

If Baldwin is true to his word, it should be more than enough for a

Costa Mesa defense led by senior inside linebacker Luis Day and tackles

Antony Grubisich and Danny Mardikian.

A victory would give Mesa only its second 4-0 start in the school's

41-season varsity history. The 1997 Mustangs opened 8-0.

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