As I was watching Yorba Linda put the finishing touches on the biggest victory in the young school's history, I couldn't help but think of the epic lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in "The Empire Strikes Back."
You member that moment when Skywalker does some crazy flip, uses The Force and almost chops Lord Vader in half.
"Impressive. Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well," a proud Vader says to Skywalker. "You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me."
Yorba Linda coach Jeff Bailey is the Mustangs Obi-Wan and he has taught the Mustangs well. Yorba Linda controlled its fear, went in to Tustin and beat the Tillers, 14-12.
Bailey won back-to-back Southwest Division titles in 2006-07 at El Dorado before becoming the first coach at Yorba Linda. I had a feeling Bailey would build Yorba Linda into one of the county's top programs, but surely Tustin, ranked No. 3 in the Southwest Division, would be too tough and battle-tested for the Mustangs, ranked No. 5 in the Southwest Division, on Friday night, right? Wrong. Yorba Linda is ready to be a contender right now.
There are still a number of big tests to come for Yorba Linda with Empire League games against Cypress and Western still on the schedule, but Obi-Wan Bailey has the Mustangs ready to compete.
THE FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL MADNESS AWARDS:
The Dynamic Duo Award: Laguna Hills quarterback Kevin Moore was 13 of 27 for 278 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions to help Laguna Hills rally to a 39-35 victory over University. Moore completed a 9-yard TD pass to Connor Landberg, who had eight catches for 160 yards and two TDs, with 35 seconds left to seal the victory for the Hawks. Moore and Landberg earned the Dynamic Duo Award on Friday night.
The Crunch Time Award: Foothill quarterback Jack Gilcrest completed nine of 13 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns to help the Knights overcome a 10-point deficit in the final five minutes and defeat Esperanza, 35-31.
The Both Sides of the Ball Award: This one goes to Valencia's Gabriel Perez, who rushed for 124 yards and two TDs and recorded two sacks on defense, as the Tigers held on for a 24-14 victory over Kennedy.
The Tough KnOCks Award: This one goes to Yorba Linda's hard-hitting defense, which was delivering the Tough KnOCks to Tustin's high-powered rushing attack all night. The Tillers came in averaging over 220 rushing yards per game. Not against the Mustangs, who held them to 123 rushing yards. Lorenzo Ruiz had a fumble recovery and broke up a pass play with a huge hit in the final minutes to help seal Yorba Linda's 14-12 victory.
The Yikes Award: Cypress built a 21-0 lead in the first half against Western. Then they had to hold on for dear life as the Pioneers came storming back and almost pulled off the comeback. Marcus Hays scored on a 25-yard TD run with 2:15 remaining, but Cypress finally stopped hays on the two-point conversion attempt. Holy smokes.
The Darth Vader Bad Guy of the Night Award: Mission Viejo went with a Hail Mary from quarterback Alex Bridgford rather than attempting a 44-yard field on the final play in its 10-7 loss to Redlands East Valley. It also passed on a field goal and went for it on fourth-and-goal earlier in the fourth quarter. O.C. Register freelancer Brian Whitehead asked Diablos coach Bob Johnson about the decisions after the game and Johnson said, "I'm not going to answer any of your questions. Didn't you hear me, I said don't ask any more of your questions until you've coached for more than 42 years." Really? Really.