Esperanza puts on masterful display as El Modena rolls over Fullerton

ORANGE – A.J. Esperanza looks the part.

Flanked by blurs for running backs and skyscrapers for receivers, Esperanza needn’t leap tall buildings in a single bound for El Modena’s offense to soar.

Won’t stop the quarterback from putting on his cape, though.

Esperanza had a hand in five touchdowns Friday, as the Vanguards defeated Fullerton, 42-14, at El Modena High.

“This is my 20th-something start as a quarterback – the game has slowed down so much for me,” said Esperanza, a third-year starter. “I’m finally seeing things. I know the offense like the back of my hand.”

El Modena (3-0), the top-ranked team in Division 7, scored on its four first-half possessions. Esperanza rushed for two of those touchdowns, and connected with Josh Smith (6-foot-1) and Ryan Smith (6-foot-3) on the others.

Behind center, Esperanza said he sees “a lot of options.”

“All my skill guys are playmakers,” he said. “I know I can go to any one of them on any play and I trust them. It’s huge.”

The quarterback finished with 221 passing yards. Justin Simpson had 11 receptions.

“We have some weapons,” El Modena coach Matt Mitchell said. “We want to spread the ball around, but still be balanced between the run and the pass.”

Chasing 28 after intermission, Fullerton (0-3) recovered a fumble in the end zone and forced turnovers on consecutive possessions. But outside a couple long first-half drives, the Indians’ offense couldn’t muster much.

Running back Dylan Nicholson scored late on a 46-yard run.

“Overall, a great team effort,” Mitchell said.

Next week, El Modena faces city and conference rival Villa Park – a team Esperanza lost to 29-10 as a junior and 10-9 as a sophomore.

“They’re a fantastic football team,” the quarterback said. “But we think we’re just as good. I can’t wait.”


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