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Mustangs are `Osso' eager

Fourth coach in four years will try to awaken a Costa Mesa program that was 5-15 the last two seasons.

August 30, 2006|By Dave Thorpe

De La Mater, a 5-10, 215-pound junior, also will run the ball out of the fullback position. He had 59 carries for 229 yards last year, including a 42-yard touchdown run in Costa Mesa's 23-21 win over Saddleback.

The Mustangs' main man on the offensive and defensive lines is returning starter London Sapolu.

The 6-foot, 245-pound senior is the Mustangs' biggest starter on both units. The son of former NFL All-Pro Jesse Sapolu, he is slated to play left guard on offense and end on defense.

"London has been a beast off the end all summer," Osso said.

The Mustangs will need all the production they can get from Sapolu, because they don't have a lot of size in the trenches.

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"We're not real big," Osso said. "We don't have any 300-pounders. London is our biggest guy. But you can't measure heart, and these guys have heart."

Costa Mesa hopes to get production from guys who could end up playing big roles for the first time on the varsity level, including seniors D.J. Lepper and Asa Hawks, as well as sophomore Antwon Byrd.

Lepper is penciled in as the starting running back and Hawk could see action as well.

"We're high on Hawks, he'll play somewhere," Osso said. "He's finally buying in. He'll be on the field somewhere."

Lepper is hungry for varsity action after having to play on the junior varsity last year because he was a transfer from Estancia.

"He's dying to get out there," Osso said.

The 5-7, 160-pound Lepper is a shifty runner.

"I tell him not to cut too much," Osso said. "Eventually he has to run straight."

Byrd, a 6-1, 175-pounder, has the athleticism, but not the experience. He'll battle for time at receiver and defensive back.

Senior Kirkland Huynh was a starter at receiver last year, but is slated to play an even bigger role this season as the potential No. 1 option. Huynh (5-8, 153) is a slot receiver who will line up off the line of scrimmage. He'll also start at cornerback.

"He's small but has big heart and a great work ethic," Osso said.

Osso, who spent 10 years as an assistant coach, including stints at Costa Mesa, Estancia and Corona del Mar, said last year's junior varsity team went 7-3, so there should also be help from below.

"Those guys coming back and they are excited about football," Osso said.

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