Game Preview: Irvine at Savanna

Irvine's Patrick Rowe is a multi-talented performer, leading the Vaqueros with 25 receptions, good for 239 yards. Rowe is also an accurate place-kicker and teammates Todd Mills and David Berry will be the best pass defenders on the field.

On the surface, the playoff opener between two number-3 seeds pitting Irvine from the Pacific Coast League traveling to Anaheim Savanna of the Orange League, seems relatively competitive.

 

Unfortunately for these teenagers, they are about to enter the adult world of corporate American football by way of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Southern Division playoffs, which brings about  a more controlled and hyped media. It goes with the territory.


With an innocent record of 6-4, Savanna has the looks of innocence. But once the clock begins at Anaheim Glover Stadium on Friday  the benevolence ends. Cruel punishment is unlawful, however under high school lights there is no such rule.

 

Savanna QB Aaron Stazicich and his corp of offensive stalwarts make this match up a no contest. At least Irvine (6-4) gets an extra game, but does it have to be against an Orange League team who was a coin flip away from a league title.


Strazicich has one of the best run and throw stats in OC, combining for 28 TD and over 2,000 yards. Coach Roger Whalen's Rebels have many offensive interchangeable players in Mark Thomas, Dominique Williams, Branden Bonner, and Mike Warner, who have all put up big numbers.


"Obviously, Strazicich is the straw that stirs the drink for us,'' said Whalen. "He's been a 3-year starter and has a 4.0 grade-point-average. He's a tough kid, whose a hard worker and we're proud of what he's accomplished for us. Strazicich is our emotional leader and we depend on him. There's just not enough superlatives to describe him. He's just a doggone good kid."


While a
Irvine win would be a considerable surprise, Whalen doesn't see it that way. "Irvine is very well-coached and is always in position to make plays. They are fundamentally sound and are a very tough opponent for us. We've got our hands full."


Whalen also calls Vaqueros' main offensive threat, Chris Sykes " a tremendous running back." Without Sykes,
Irvine loses most of its scoring potential.


Sykes is a 70's era type back who doesn't lose yardage, but seldom gains big yardage. Of his 1150 season yards, he's had no run over 20 yards, yet has crossed the goal line 15 times.


Sykes did not play in
Irvine's lopsided loss to Laguna HIlls last week . Calls to Irvine to determine Sykes' status for the Savanna game were not successful.


Without Sykes,
Irvine is led by junior QB D.J. Crumlich, who was inserted as the starter by coach Terry Henigan after the third game of the season. Crumlich responded by leading Irvine to five consecutive victories and scored 3 TD to pin down powerful Corona Del Mar 21-14 at the half, before the Vaqueros suffered a 41-28 loss.


Irvine's Patrick Rowe is a multi-talented performer, leading the Vaqueros with 25 receptions, good for 239 yards. Rowe is also an accurate place-kicker and teammates Todd Mills and David Berry will be the best pass defenders on the field.


Both
Irvine and Savanna have posted impressive wins this season. The Rebels tacked on the only loss to Anaheim with a 26-7 win three weeks ago. Irvine defeated a good Riverside County team in Elsinore, 21-6 in its season opener.


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