COSTA MESA — Oronde Crenshaw says he isn't a one-man gang for Costa Mesa High.
During the first two games of the season, he produced six of the football team's eight touchdowns. Those scores prove otherwise.
The Mustangs played without Crenshaw on Saturday night because he's dealing with an array of injuries to his right foot. They managed to find the end zone twice, but it wasn't enough.
Costa Mesa sure missed its senior star, as it lost to Katella, 21-16, at Jim Scott Stadium. Crenshaw, in his letterman jacket and jeans, watched his team drop to 1-2.
He expects to return next week from a high ankle sprain, a bone bruise on top of his foot and a nagging Achilles' heel.
Coach Wally Grant isn't so sure Crenshaw will be ready for the Mustangs' road contest against Los Amigos.
"They're upset with me," said Grant, who also sat standout linebacker Quinton Bell for the third straight game because of the senior's hip-flexor injury. "But you know what? This is the [nonleague portion of the schedule] and I need kids to get their work in [before Orange Coast League play].
"What I have to do is make sure [Crenshaw and Bell] are 100% healthy. When they're 100% healthy, you know, I'll play them, and that may not be until [we start league on Oct. 11]. That bye week [going into the league opener against rival Estancia] is going to be real, real important on where we're at physically. If they're not 100 percent, I'm not going to play them."
Grant said he might not have to play Crenshaw and Bell in the coming weeks. He came away impressed with the sophomore backups he used at Crenshaw and Bell's positions.
Mason Mataafu took over for Crenshaw at tailback and middle linebacker and Jonathan Brucales played outside linebacker for Bell. Mataafu rushed 16 times for 75 yards and a touchdown. The two-yard score came as time expired.
The Mustangs needed the touchdown much earlier in the fourth quarter. They went into the fourth trailing Katella, 14-10, after quarterback Oliver Ferris completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Daniel Lawrence late in the third.
Costa Mesa didn't get to do much at the start of the fourth. The offense ran two plays before it punted. Then the Mustangs' defense spent almost eight minutes on the field trying to stop the Knights (2-0), ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division.
Katella put together a 16-play, 92-yard scoring drive, chewing up much of the clock in the fourth quarter. The Knights' biggest plays came on fourth down, converting two for first downs and the last for a touchdown.
Tailback TJ Ashmeade made it possible each time, running for four yards to move the chains, then 16 yards to move them to the Mustangs' 12. On fourth-and-four from the six, the senior ran right through defenders trying to bring him down.
He wasn't going down, and neither were the Knights for the first time this year. Katella took a 21-10 lead with 2:26 left to play.
"We fought for it," said Ashmeade, who carried the ball 25 times for 150 yards.
Grant said the Knights' double-wing offense physically beat up his defense on the long drive. On the ensuing kickoff, the Mustangs covered 80 yards in 11 plays. They finished strong, with Ferris completing more than half of his 113 passing yards during the drive.
"I liked how we finished," Grant said.
"I'm excited about what's coming down in the next couple of weeks."