Game Preview: Savanna vs. Anaheim Western

The Savanna Rebels won't be one of the best kept secrets in Orange County anymore after they meet Anaheim Western on Friday to decide the Orange League title.

The Savanna Rebels won't be one of the best kept secrets in Orange County anymore after they meet Anaheim Western on Friday to decide the Orange League title.


Savanna (4-0, 8-1) has won seven straight games after losing two months ago to La Palma Kennedy 36-13.


Quarterback Aaron Strazicich has been quietly been putting up big numbers, accounting for 26 TD's on a combined rushing and passing.


Strazicich has thrown for 1,500 yards and 16 TD's with a mere 3 INT's. He totaled 7 TD's against Buena Park last month.


Strazicich has a corp of multi-tasking offensive players who are all capable of rushing and receiving.


Rebel coach Roger Whalen can interchange Dominique Williams, Mark Thomas, and Brandon Bonner, from running back to receiver.


Williams has rushed for 5 TD's, caught 5, and returned a kickoff 90-yards for another, and his 19 receptions average 23-yards.


Last week against Anaheim Magnolia, Thomas totaled 250 yards and ran for 3 TD's, and has 866 rushing yards this season.


Strazicich has other options in Brandon Bonner and Mike Warner. Bonner can has caught 21 passes, for 450 yards and 4 TD's, and Warner has caught 5 TD receptions.

Savanna has not been tested like Western, but has learned to pull the upset and how to come back for the win, such as the unexpected 26-7 league victory over previously undefeated
Anaheim. Again, Strazicich helped lead the way by throwing 3 TD's and running for another. Bonner caught two of those TD's and finished with 116 yards receiving.

In its league opener, the Rebels had to comeback against Santa Ana Century when Strazicich threw 2 TD's to Williams late in the game for a 28-21 triumph. Strazicich finished 10-for-12, 250 yards, 3 TD's, with half the yards in the hands of Williams.

Savanna did not pass the mark to advance into the true elite, when it couldn't build on a 7-6 halftime lead and fell apart in the second half.

Western will present another true test for the Rebels as the Pioneers (3-1, 5-4) are battle hardened after facing such opponents as Lakewood Mayfair,
Tustin, and Placentia Valencia. Western has averaged 57 points in its past three games.

Unlike Savanna, Western could not get past
Anaheim, losing to the Colonists, 20-3 in its first league loss in six years.

But Western coach Toby Howell has made some offensive adjustments, primarily putting the ball into the hands of Eddie Lark instead of just letting Lester Bodiford improvise out of the quarterback option. Lark ran for 4 TD's and 136 yards against Century last week.

Howell has been working in sophomore quarterback Derek Orman, allowing Bodiford to concentrate on the run. Bodiford has run and thrown for over a 1,000 yard total, with 14 TD's. In big games, Bodiford has met the challenge almost every time and can be counted on against Savanna for at least 2 TD's.

Western fills the defensive line with three 280-pound strong men in Andrew Lupati, Phil Vournazos, and Jordan Tausaga, who all will most likely be looking back at Savanna jersey numbers as they fly by. 


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