By BRIAN WHITEHEAD
FOR THE REGISTER
YORBA LINDA > It´s supposed to take new football programs more than a year to establish themselves as legitimate league threats. It´s supposed to take underclassmen more than a year to mature into dynamic varsity players.
Coaches typically need more than a year to implement their systems, heighten their respective program´s expectations and develop their personnel. Most new football programs aren´t like Yorba Linda´s, though. And most football coaches aren´t like Jeff Bailey.
Four years removed from their inaugural Empire League season, the Mustangs declared themselves league favorites with a 28-21 victory over Valencia on Friday at Yorba Linda High. "That´s a great ballclub," Bailey said of Valencia. "They´re well coached, tough and disciplined. We´re excited about this win."
With perennial league champion Tustin no longer the terror it once was, Yorba Linda (6-0, 2-0) threw its hat into the ring as the heir apparent to the Empire League throne.
It´ll be the fifth-year program´s fourth straight season in contention. "We have a great group of kids who have worked hard since the start," Bailey said. "Summers in the offseason, falls in the heat, our kids have bought into our system. We´re a family. "We´re not the biggest or fastest team, but, man, we play hard." Scores from Jake Fischbeck and Jimmy Gilles put the Mustangs up, 14-0, early in the first quarter. Valencia´s defense intercepted quarterback Jake Gigliotti twice in the half.
Its offense, however, couldn´t convert on the ensuing possessions. Yorba Linda had a 20-0 lead at intermission and was never threatened. "Jake had a great game, but turnovers almost cost us," Bailey said. "He made plays when we needed, though. Sometimes plays you design work, and sometimes they don´t." Tom Torres (85 rushing yards) scored on touchdown runs of 16 and 1 yards for Valencia (5-2, 2-1).