Thursday Night Roundup: Santa Margarita Tied

The players sure looked good at the San Diego Nike camp, they did beat Mater Dei last year and a highly-regarded group of underclassmen were on the way up. All that got Santa Margarita High's varsity football team in its first game on Thursday night at Cal State Fullerton was a 21-21 tie against Ayala of Chino Hills.

It's not like the season is already a disaster for the Eagles as there are still plenty of big games on the schedule, starting next week with a matchup against Los Alamitos. But those who thought the team was overrated at No. 3 in the state and No. 26 in the nation (both by us) appear to be correct. To get that high again, Santa Margarita now will have to show a lot more consistency, not just win a big game once in a while.

But it also could be a case of Ayala being much better than anyone thought. Only time will tell. The Bulldogs had two chances to win the game in the last two minutes, but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a lack of timeouts prevented any further scoring. According to published reports in the L.A. Times and Orange County Register, Ayala outplayed Santa Margarita for much of the night, outgaining the Eagles 460 yards to 167. Chaz Brewer rushed for 109 yards on 13 carries and Robert Meza had 85 yards on five carries to lead Ayala. Both scored touchdowns. Ashton White led Santa Margarita with 25 carries for 100 yards.

In another key Thursday night game, Lutheran of Orange proved without question that it has one of the state's top small school teams this year by battling to a 7-7 tie against Newport Harbor of Newport Beach. Newport Harbor was a CIF Southern Section Div. VI finalist last year.

In Sacramento, quarterback-defensive back Mel Cuckovich from Christian Brothers sure had an interesting night. In the first half of a game against El Camino, Cuckovich threw a key interception that kept El Camino close at halftime. The Eagles trailed by just 3-0. But in the second half it was Cuckovich the defender who got even—and then some—by intercepting three passes, returning two for touchdowns, as Christian Brothers turned the close game into a 37-0 romp. Cuckovich, a 6-0, 185-pounder who also stars in basketball, went 35 yards and 56 yards on his touchdown returns. He also scored offensively in the second half on a 10-yard run.

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