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ROSE PALMISANO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Yorba Linda's Dillan Cazares sprints to the end zone for a touchdown after intercepting a pass against Esperanza's Jacob White during the first half Friday night.

Yorba Linda commands Battle of the Boulevard

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

YORBA LINDA – Pregame handshakes provide football coaches the opportunity to exchange pleasantries prior to the start of their 48-minute chess match.

Some chat on common opponents; others discuss burgeoning varsity talent and forthcoming classes.

Gary Bowers and Jeff Bailey, however, have been exchanging pleasantries for nearly 20 years.

What could the coaches of Esperanza and Yorba Linda, respectively, have left to talk about?

“The same old stuff,” said Bailey, after his Mustangs defeated their cross-town rival, 23-10, Friday at Yorba Linda High.

“We communicate all the time, so we'll throw stuff by each other. It's a rivalry, but my best friends are (at Esperanza). It's always fun.”

The scene at Nathan Shapell Memorial Stadium was one to behold.

Banners claiming territorial rights to the mutual field hung on both sides of the stadium.

The white face paint and garb of Yorba Linda's student section sharply contrasted the red and yellow face paint and garb of Esperanza's.

Alumni and boosters lined both sidelines. Both bands sat behind their team's end zone.

“It's awesome,” Bailey said. “That's what makes these games fun. That's why you play, for that excitement.”

On the field, Yorba Linda (4-0) benefitted from two pivotal defensive plays to win the Battle of the Boulevard for the second year in a row.

Michael Mossett intercepted a pass on the second play from scrimmage to set up Yorba Linda's first touchdown.

Dillan Cazares intercepted a pass early in the second quarter and returned it 32 yards for a score.

The pick-six gave the Mustangs a 17-7 lead.

“Our kids fought their tails off,” Bailey said.

One of Mossett's six carries went for 58 yards and a touchdown in the third.

“That's not a bad defense over there,” Bailey said of Esperanza (1-3). “Their linebackers are really good, their linemen are really good.

“We had to earn everything we got tonight.”

Aztecs senior Nate Rodriguez caught five passes for 48 yards.

Contact the writer: bwhitehead@ocregister.com


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