No day at the beach: Gaels face Santa Margarita

MISSION VIEJO, Ca. – With temperatures expected to reach close to 100 degrees here Friday, the Bishop Gorman Gaels no doubt will enjoy the cool sea breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean when they take the field to face Santa Margarita High School at Saddleback College.

But even though the Eagles (0-1), plagued by five interceptions, dropped their season opener last week against Bishop Amat, 38-28, Bishop Gorman head coach Tony Sanchez knows this game will be no day at the beach for the Gaels (1-1).

One reason for that is the coach who will on the opposite sideline.

Harry Welch, 68, who announced in July that he will retire after this season, is the only coach in California history to guide three different schools to CIF state championship bowl victories, including a 27-13 upset of famed Concord De La Salle in the 2006 State Division I championship game while at Canyon High School in Canyon Country.

Welch also coached Santa Margarita to the 2011 State Division I title. Last year’s Eagles squad was ranked No. 1 in the nation for six weeks before star quarterback Johnny Stanton (Nebraska) tore his ACL.

So despite the opening loss, Santa Margarita is still ranked No. 16 in southern California by the Los Angeles Times this week, one spot behind Encino Crespi (1-0), which visits Fertitta Field next week.

“They were who we were a week ago,” Sanchez said referring to Gorman’s error-plagued season-opening 28-21 loss to Phoenix Mountain Pointe. “They played a good football team and lost a game they probably felt they should have won. Knowing their coaching staff and their history there, they’re going to pick themselves up and they’re going to be ready to go. We got a lot better last week too and hopefully we can continue to progress.”

The Gaels bussed to Orange County after practice on Thursday afternoon. Sanchez said he was looking forward to taking his team on the road for a game.

“Two home games in a row, it’s about time to get out of here and get on the road,” Sanchez said. “It’s actually kind of nice, staying in a hotel with the kids. We get to spend some good time together, have some meals together, have a mass on the road. It will be exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”

The 7:30 p.m. contest will be televised on Fox Prime Ticket (DirecTV 693).

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