By Jason Hickman
2006 CIF State Championship Bowl Games
Division II Championship: Orange Lutheran (13-1) vs. Palo Alto (12-1)
Orange Lutheran's meeting with Palo Alto Saturday in the Division II portion of the CIF State Championship Bowl Games was forged the old fashion way - they earned it.
Orange Lutheran defeated five teams ranked in the Top 25 of MaxPreps' California State Rankings - Long Beach Poly (No. 4), Edison (No. 5), Santa Margarita (No. 8), Mater Dei (No. 15), and San Clemente (No. 25) - and faced two others in the Top 50.
Palo Alto made its way to Carson by eliminating Aragon, Palma, and Oak Grove - teams with a combined 29-6-1 record in 2006 - in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs. The Vikings won those three contests by a total of just seven points.
"What I like about this team more than anything is that there are really no stars," Palo Alto head coach Earl Hansen said. "We played 13 games and you could mark a different guy every week who stepped up."
Against Orange Lutheran, Hansen might need all of his Vikings to become stars. Like Cardinal Newman in the Division III game, Palo Alto enters the contest lacking the star power of its Southern counterpart. But Hansen isn't conceding anything.
"We have to control the ball and make sure we don't make mistakes," Hansen said. "If we do those things, we've got a chance."
Orange Lutheran features at least three Division I-A-bound seniors in quarterback Aaron Corp (USC), wide receiver Austin Pettis (Boise State), and two-way lineman Michael Reardon (USC).
But Lancer head coach Jim Kunau isn't buying the disparity in talent, and don't expect his team to either.
"They have got plenty of size and firepower, and they captured our attention right off the bat," Kunau said. "Plus, our guys are aware in the state basketball championships this past March, Palo Alto beat one of our league schools, Mater Dei, for the state championship. All of our players understand that we are playing a great opponent."
The key for Palo Alto will be finding an answer for Corp, a legitimate California Player of the Year candidate. The 6-4, 190-pound future Trojan has amassed 3,581 passing and rushing yards and is responsible for 27 touchdowns on his own. He has risen to the occasion on the big stage several times this season, averaging 400 total yards in important wins over Santa Margarita, Mater Dei, and San Clemente.
The Vikings will likely counter with the "Thunder & Lightning" combo of Sione Mataele (6-0, 260 pounds) and Will Frazier (6-0, 175) to turn the contest into a slugfest. Mataele and Frazier have combined for 1,750 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2006.
Orange Lutheran and Palo Alto will be the second game of Saturday's tripleheader, scheduled to begin at
Orange Lutheran (13-1) at a Glance.
Points Per Game/Allowed: 33.6/17.1
Leading Passer: Aaron Corp (2,537 yards, 17 touchdowns, 7 interceptions)
Leading Rusher: Aaron Corp (1,044 yards, 10 touchdowns)
Leading Receiver: Austin Pettis (980 yards, 10 touchdowns)
Big Win: The Lancers had a lot of them, but we'll go with the Oct. 19 win over Santa Margarita. A week after suffering its only loss of the season against Servite, Lutheran used a 28-point second-half outburst to knock off the unbeaten Eagles, 49-39. Corp threw for 278 yards and ran for another 111 in the victory.
Palo Alto (12-1) at a Glance.
Points Per Game/Allowed: 35.2/15.7
Leading Passer: Nick Goodspeed (1,810 yards, 15 touchdowns, 7 interceptions)
Leading Rusher: Will Frazier (1,057 yards, 15 touchdowns)
Leading Receiver: Maurice Williams (26 receptions, 493 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Leading Tackler: James McCollough (110 tackles, 3 sacks)
Big Win: The Vikings avenged their only loss of the season last week in the Central Coast Section Open Division title game, beating Oak Grove of San Jose, 23-21. Frazier and Sione Mataele churned out 216 yards on the ground.