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Oilers like what they see

Facing tough El Toro squad, Huntington Beach opens season with impressive win. It'll try to continue that trend with another tough matchup against Corona del Mar on Friday.

September 07, 2011|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com

Huntington Beach Coach Eric Lo said during the preseason that the first three games of the season would tell him a lot about his 2011 football team. Games against El Toro, Corona del Mar and Foothill, two of whom were rivals when the Oilers belonged to the Sea View League, figured to test Huntington right out of the gate.

Lo did learn something last Friday at Cap Sheue Field: his team can win the close one.

Huntington never trailed against El Toro, but the Oilers had to withstand a barrage of passes — 55 of them from Chargers quarterback Conner Manning — and a late comeback attempt to post a 23-21 season-opening victory.

"It's the first game of the season and it was sloppy at times and we made some mistakes," said Lo, whose team hosts Corona del Mar at 7 p.m. Friday. "But, we won a game against a very good team that I think will win the Sea View League, and getting a win is the bottom line.

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"I thought we made some key plays when we needed to and that allowed us to take the lead in the second half and were able to hang on."

The turning point in the game came midway in the third quarter with the teams deadlocked at 14. On second down from his own seven, Manning went back to pass from his own end zone where he was drilled by Huntington's John Vis, who jarred the ball loose. The ball rolled through the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety to give the Oilers a 16-14 lead midway through the quarter.

Four minutes later, Huntington went up 23-14 when Nolan Biegel rambled his way to the end zone on a 36-yard run. It was the first carry of the game for Biegel, who sat out the last half of the 2010 season with an arm injury.

"He's a freaking man out there," Lo said of Biegel. "He gave a phenomenal effort. He plays defense and some at tight end, too, and he gave us that big run to help us establish the lead. He played a great game."

The Oilers defense was tested by Manning (31-55, 227 yards) but came up with a pair of interceptions, one by Ramon Vargas and the other at the goal line by Chris Ogilvie that thwarted an El Toro drive in the first half.

"I thought our defense did a nice job of calming down in the second half," Lo said. "We knew that quarterback (Manning) was pretty good. We gave up a few big plays, but again, we made key plays when we had to."

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