Shutout helps El Modena move closer to North Hills title


YORBA LINDA – Winning eight games usually took three or four years to accomplish for the El Modena football program.

From 2003 until 2014 – the longest span in school history between league titles – the Vanguards suffered through eight seasons in which they won three games or fewer and only once posted a winning record in that span.

But after defeating Esperanza, 45-0, in a North Hills League game Thursday night at Yorba Linda High, El Modena has won at least eight games for a second consecutive season and can clinch a second straight league title with a win next week against Brea Olinda.

No doubt, the Vanguards have no intention of stopping there.

El Modena (8-1, 2-0) entered the night ranked second in CIF-SS Division 8 and had high hopes of reaching a Southern Section title game, something that barely eluded the Vanguards last season.

They moved the ball steadily behind the starting offensive line of Dylan Victer, Elijah Brock, Owen Marcyan, Matthew Malone and Joseph Russo, who average just 232 pounds with four of the five being juniors.

Dillon Keefe finished with had 125 rushing yards on 17 carries as the Vanguards piled up 282 yards on the ground against the Aztecs (1-8, 0-2).

El Modena quarterback A.J. Esperanza rushed for two touchdowns in the first quarter and threw for another to Juan Hernandez in the second before Jordy Cruz’s 22-yard field goal at the halftime horn gave the Vanguards a 24-0 lead.

Hernandez, Christian Lopez and Bobby Laviguer intercepted passes for El Modena, and Lopez returned his 25 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to extend the lead to 38-0. Luke Reissmueller recovered a fourth-quarter fumble to help preserve the shutout.

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