Game 11 - Esperanza
Game 11 - Esperanza
ESPERANZA 41, EAGLES 7 (PLACENTIA, Nov. 22, 2002)
Santa Margarita’s 14th varsity season, and fourth in Division I, came to a close after a disappointing 41-7 loss to Sunset League power Anaheim Esperanza in the first round of the CIF-SS Division I Playoffs before 4,000 at Valencia High School’s Bradford Stadium. The Aztec’s, behind Shaun Wildenstein’s 207 yards rushing and three touchdowns, improved to 10-1 and moved on to face Mater Dei in the quarterfinals while the Eagles finished their year at 6-5.
For the second week in a row the Eagles came out of halftime behind, but within striking distance in a low scoring game, only to have four second half turnovers turn a tight game into a blowout. Steve Kretchmar’s three-yard touchdown run with 5:51 left in the first quarter gave the Aztecs a lead they would never relinquish. Wildenstein’s two-yard scoring run capped a 16-play drive that took 7:45 off the clock to increase the lead to 14-0 midway through the second quarter. After punting on their first two drives the Eagles came to life when Bobby Whithorne returned a kickoff 72 yards to set up his own 17-yard touchdown pass to Mark Johnson to close the gap to 14-7 with 4:35 left in the half. The Eagle defense held the Aztecs to 33 yards on their final two possessions of the half giving the visitors hope heading into the lockerroom.
Brandon Weiner’s 31-yard field goal at the 7:56 mark of the third quarter increased the lead to 17-7. Later in the quarter Esperanza LB Tom Storing returned a Mark Sanchez pass 26 yards for a score to make it 24-7. Three plays later Case Colaw’s interception set up Wildenstein’s second score, this one from 18 yards out to push the lead to 31-7. Three plays later Mike Angelo was stripped after a nice 23-yard reception from Sanchez to give the Aztecs the ball on the Eagle 45. They needed only 2:15 to cash in as Wildenstein carried it in from 13 yards out to put the hosts up by 31 at 38-7. Weiner’s 30-yard field goal with 1:25 left closed out the scoring.
Clearly the Eagles could have used both Ashton White and two-way standout Ryan Nienhuis who were both out with injuries. Running Back Chase McWhorter was also slowed all week due to a knee injury suffered in the Bishop Amat game forcing the Eagles to try some unique formations and plays which had only limited success against the veteran Aztec defense. The QB tandum of Case Colaw (five of 12 for 21 yards) and sophomore Sanchez (seven of 12 for 66 yards) were able to complete several underneath passes as evidenced by Whithorne’s nine catches for 33 yards, but the lack of both a running game and ability to establish a downfield passing game, coupled with the four turnovers limited the Eagles to only 161 yards and five first downs. Colaw, who alternated at running back with Chase McWhorter, finished with a team-high 47 yards rushing on only six carries.
Defensively, Dustin Slinkard earned Cox Communications Player of the
Game honors with an outstanding performance in his last game as an Eagle
as he collected 22 tackles. Matt Rupp, who set a career-high with 10 tackles,
also forced a fumble and registered a sack to tie the school’s single
season record of 13.5 set by Joe Winklemann in 1992. Interestingly, the
Eagles finished the year by not allowing a single touchdown pass.