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NICK AGRO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Villa Park junior Paul Valle, center, tries to get past the El Modena defense in Friday's game at Fred Kelly Stadium.

Penalty flags mar Villa Park's triumph

STAFF WRITER

ORANGE – It’s frustrating walking off the field with a win, knowing your performance was underwhelming.

At least that’s the sentiment the Villa Park sideline projected after Friday night’s contest against El Modena.

The Spartans committed 16 penalties for 130 yards, and jumped offsides more times than Coach Dusan Ancich would like to count.

But with the John Stamos-Zavior Rivera 1-2 punch chewing up much of the second-half clock, and quarterback Nick Sipe playing an efficient ballgame, No. 10 Villa Park walked away with a 29-10 victory Friday over the Vanguards in a nonleague contest at El Modena High.

“It’s absolutely troublesome,” Ancich said of the yellow flags that littered the field much of night. “If you really watch the video and go back and look at it, we’re so self-destructive. Last week against Servite: dropped passes. Every week we do something self-destructive. I think our biggest opponent is Villa Park.”

Villa Park (3-1) trailed El Modena, 7-0, midway through the first quarter after A.J. Esperanza connected with Frankie Islas on a 27-yard touchdown pass. The Vanguards (3-1) looked to successfully execute the ensuing onside kick, but a flag negated the recovery and what would have been early momentum.

After dodging another potential miscue, the Spartans used a steady dosage of Stamos in the run game, eventually tying things up by the end of the first quarter, which is when Sipe came to life.

After failing to complete a pass in the opening 12 minutes, the Spartans quarterback was perfect in the second quarter, completing all nine of his pass attempts for 128 yards and two scores. The Purdue-bound senior gave Villa Park its first lead of the game when he hit Hunter Ancich over the middle of the field, and the junior wideout out-raced the El Modena secondary for a 53-yard score.

With 2:36 left in the first half, he orchestrated a seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive that concluded with a 7-yard back shoulder laser to Stamos which put the Spartans up 22-10 at the break.

Over the second and third quarters, Sipe completed 15 straight passes and finished with 206 yards on 17-of-23 passing.

The Spartans had just three possessions in the second half, but reeled off drives of 15, 10 and eight plays which accounted for 15-plus minutes.

Stamos bulled his way to 95 yards rushing, and Rivera ran for 66 of his 72 yards in the second half, and added Villa Park’s final touchdown on a 12-yard scamper midway through the fourth.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@scng.com


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