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Hornets to tangle with Scots on Saturday

October 05, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

Most people involved in Calipatria and Vincent Memorial high school's football showdown in Calipatria on Saturday would say the winner is the odds-on favorite to win the Desert League championship.

Considering that as a member of the Citrus League last year, Vincent finished 3-1 against DL schools and that a win for Calipatria would give it a commanding 2-0 DL mark, that could be true.

"If we don't win this game, then we don't have a chance at league," said Hornet nose tackle and fullback Brian Williams. "They're a really good team and it's going to be a tough game. But I think it's going to come down to who has more desire and heart. And I think we do."

Said Calipatria offensive lineman/defensive end Jay Watte: "This game is really a big part of our season. I definitely think league will come down to the winner of this game. This is a very big game and I think we're going to have to get down and dirty."

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The squads met last year in Calipatria with Vincent steamrolling the Hornets 40-14.

After losing their season opener, the Hornets (3-1 overall, 1-0 DL) have ripped off three straight victories, including a 22-8 DL win over Holtville last week.

Before last week's game, many figured Holtville's Frank Lopez — who entered the contest with over 400 yards rushing — would run roughshod over the Hornet defense, and in the first half he did, racking up 91 yards on the ground.

But with defensive coordinator Jeff Deyo calling the shots, Calipatria held Lopez to only 22 yards in the second half.

The Hornets knew their defense would see a lot of power running, led by Lopez. Things will be different when they face the Scots (2-1).

Calipatria will have to contend to the power rushing of fullback Eric Ruiz, the outside running of brothers Juan and Jose Lopez and the vertical game of quarterback Miguel Montaño.

"Vincent Memorial really has a multifaceted offense. They have a lot of really good athletes and they're going to bring a lot of different looks," said Hornet coach Stuart Black. "Last year that game we played, it was tight through the fourth quarter. But we just ran out of steam. That can't happen this year. We have to play a perfect game to win this."

Said Deyo: "We are going to have a tremendous challenge on both sides of the ball. On defense we're going to have to prepare to defend multiple sets. Against Holtville we basically got only one look. But Vincent's going to give us about 15 different looks. They have big players and some good athletes, but the great thing about football is that passion can compensate for size, speed and skill."

Leading the Scots' offense is Ruiz, who is coming into his own. Against Army/Navy he racked up 135 yards on the ground, mostly up the gut.

"We've been working pretty hard and we're all really motivated and pumped up for this game," said Ruiz. "I expect a tough game. But we're just going to bring it."

Another big challenge the Hornets will face is the Vincent defense, which has allowed only three points per game.

Anchoring the Scots' defense is 6-foot-3, 275-pound middle linebacker Manuel Padilla. The heart and soul of the Vincent defense, Padilla finished with 16 solo tackles in the Scots' 45-0 hammering of Army/Navy last week.

So with his offense coming off a 45-point performance and his defense playing as well as its played all year, Vincent coach Jaime Santos is quite confident about his team's chances against Calipatria.

"I think on offense and defense we're ready. Our team is really focused and we have a good game plan for this," said Santos. "I think Coach Deyo has done a great job with them. He's a strategist and I think it's going to be a challenge for us. We just have to see what their defense gives us. We'll take what we can and hopefully we'll be able to out-strategize them.".

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