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Pacifica, Tustin: Same league, different districts, different starting dates

Some schools that belong to the same league also belong to different school districts that have different calendars for resuming sports activities.

Pacifica and Tustin are in the Empire League, and play each other in varsity football on Oct. 9 at Tustin High. Pacifica is in the Garden Grove Unified School District that will not resume sports until July 13. Tustin of the Tustin Unified School District started sports action, including football, June 15.

But Pacifica head coach Vinnie Lopez does not see Tustin having a running head start because running is about all Tustin (and every other team) can do right now.

“It’s not like Tustin is doing full-football drills are anything like that,” Lopez said. “They’re still limted to 10 players to a group with one coach and a lot of social distancing. There’s a lot of running and cone drills.”

Pacifica could be a contender in the Empire League that also includes defending league champion Cypress, Crean Lutheran, Kennedy and Valencia. Mariners sophomore-to-be quarterback Darius Cowens (6-0, 170 in 2019) last season started all 11 games and completed 51 percent of his passes for 1,563 yards, second-most among league passers, with 12 touchdowns. Receiver Jamal Fisher as a junior last season had 46 catches for 993 yards and eight touchdowns.

Tustin last season was in a three-way tie for second place in the Empire League, with Pacifica and Valencia. All three teams would finish 5-6 overall after losing first-round playoff games.

Among Tustin’s returnees is defensive tackle La Shawne Hye who was an Empire League defensive co-player of the year in 2019 as a junior. Offensive tackle Efrain Garcia was all-league second team last season as a junior. Crisitan Pilimai was an all-league second team tight end for the Tillers last year; he transferred to JSerra.

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