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Modesty making winners out of Lightning

November 18, 2004

Rick Devereux

A team that had won a total of four games in its two-year history, on

paper, would appear to have the odds stacked against it of making the

CIF playoffs the following season.

But that is exactly what Sage Hill School's football team is doing

this year after completing the regular season with a 7-3 record,

which it takes into Friday's CIF Southern Section Division XIII

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first-round contest against host Linfield Christian at 7 p.m. The

game marks the first CIF appearance for a Lightning football team.

One of the keys to the turnaround from last season's 1-8 finish

are improved offensive and defensive performances when it comes to

the running game.

A contributor to both offense and defense has been

fullback/linebacker Don Ayres.

"Don has been a solid player for us on both sides of the ball all

year," Coach Tom Monarch said. "He is a great tackler and a great

blocker and runner."

Ayres finished with 112 rushing yards and one touchdown on a

team-high 20 carries against Capistrano Valley Christian Friday. The

sophomore also intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter to seal

the Lightning's 24-12 win, which gave Sage its first ever Academy

League victory.

For his efforts, Ayres has been named the Daily Pilot Athlete of

the Week. But Ayres does not think his efforts were the deciding

factor in the outcome.

"Our O-line won that game," Ayres said. "They dominated [Capo

Valley Christian's] D-line the whole game."

The Lightning rushed for 290 yards while Capo Valley amassed 171

rushing yards.

"Our O-line opened up holes so [tailback] Keya [Manshadi] and I

could run," Ayres said. "I give all the credit to the line."

While the O-line does deserve some accolades, Ayres has shown he

has the necessary skill to receive praise.

He leads the team with 998 rushing yards and 178 carries. He is

second on the team with 12 rushing touchdowns.

But Ayres deflects praise as skillfully as he deflects would-be

tacklers and would-be blockers. He would much rather talk about the

final win of the season.

"That was the greatest win of the whole season," he said. "It was

the fifth homecoming game we played. Half of our games this year have

been in homecoming games. Other teams have challenged us this year to

their homecoming games, and we've won four of the five games.

Sage Hill defeated Fairmont, 35-0, in the Huskies' homecoming in

Week 4.

The Lightning beat Viewpoint, 31-6, in Sage's homecoming in Week

5.

Sage Hill shut out Sherman Indian's homecoming, 14-0, in Week 7.

The only blemish was a 30-7 defeat during Brethren Christian's

homecoming in Week 8.

"It seemed like every week we found out we scheduled a homecoming

opponent," Ayres said. "At first I was kind of nervous to play in a

big game like that, but then I realized it was sort of like a slap in

the face. It started to really get our team motivated to play in

homecoming games."

Ayres said beating Capo Valley Christian was extra special because

of the history between the two schools.

"Coach [Monarch] told us about how they threw a pass on us late in

the game two years ago even though they were up by 28 points," Ayres

said. "We knew were going to get them back for that and I think we

did. That was the best team to play to get our first ever Academy

League win."

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