Two of the great rivalries of high school football in the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area will be renewed this week with games on Thursday and Friday.
Garden Grove (4-3 overall and 3-0 in Garden Grove League play) will take on Rancho Alamitos (5-3 and 2-1) at Bolsa Grande Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Grove-Rancho rivalry dates back from 1958, when RAHS become the second school in what was then the Garden Grove Union High School District. The Vaqueros won 20-12, and then went on to capture the next three games as well. The Argonauts bounced back with four straight wins and the two schools played fairly even for the next five decades. In recent years, Garden Grove has dominated, winning five straight GGL titles and two CIF-SS titles. The Argos have the additional incentive of knowing that if they win, they will clinch no worse than a tie for the league crown.
For the Fountain Valley-Edison, their faceoff is known as “The Battle for the Bell.” These are two sister schools in the Huntington Beach Union High School District, opened in the mid-Sixties with almost identical layouts and architecture.
The Chargers won the first meeting in 1969 by 21-20 and took the first four encounters. But the Barons had their glory years as well, winning five times from 1993-1999.
Looking at their records so far, Garden Grove would be favored over Rancho, and Edison over FVHS, but in rivalry games – with so much emotion and attention – anything can happen, and probably will.
Despite a 24-16 loss to Los Alamitos last week, Edison remains atop our High Five for football teams in the GG-HB-W ladder. Pacifica (7-1), which hammered Western last week, is still in second place and will face a strong Tustin (7-1) team on Friday.
In third is Westminster (6-2), followed by Garden Grove (4-3) and La Quinta (7-1). On the bubble is Orange (7-1). The Panthers will take on Santa Ana (7-1) this week. The Saints are the only 3-0 team in the GWL and can lock up no worse than a tie with a win.
Why the Chargers lost … probably
If you’re wondering just how Los Alamitos defeated Edison last week in the game which probably decided the Sunset League title, the answer can probably be summed up in one term: the blitz.
Edison’s quarterback Griffin O’Connor, who is bound for Yale, went into the game as one of the top quarterbacks in the CIF-SS. He led the Chargers to the CIF-SS Division 3 title in 2016, throwing for over 3600 yards and for 37 TDs.
But against the Griffins, O’Connor rarely got a chance to set up and go through his progressions. The visitors rushed linebackers on nearly every play and the 6-foot-3-inch senior was frequently forced to hurry his throws, completing just 13 of 43 passes for 172 yards and two scores.
More telling, the Chargers lost a 16-3 lead and were scoreless in the second half, eventually losing 24-16,a result that most observers regarded as an upset.
The green-and-gold will almost certainly bounce back and make the playoffs. They could make a deep run into the post-season if they can be more successful in giving their outstanding quarterback just another second or two. It’s often said that football is a game of inches. True, but it’s also a game of seconds as well.
Pete Zarustica writes Monday Morning Coach.