With Serra High’s football team losing a majority of their top players, including now University of Southern California stars George Farmer and Marqise Lee, to graduation, one would think that this would be a down year.
On top of that, the Cavaliers have been plagued with several key injuries and had to play last Friday’s home Mission League showdown against Chaminade without top running back Arterio Bateman, who hurt his ankle a week earlier against Harvard-Westlake.
Serra, though, proved that it didn’t matter. The Cavaliers were able to hold off the CIF-Southern Section Western Division’s No. 1 ranked Eagles, 35-29, to capture the Mission title and enter Friday’s playoffs as the top seed.
Serra may not have any pushover in the first round, though. The Cavaliers will host Culver City in a match-up between two teams with a lot of speed. The Centaurs were preseason favorites to win the Ocean League and were ranked as high as fifth in the Western Division before league losses to Inglewood and Santa Monica that threw them into third place.
The Centaurs have a lot of talent, behind junior quarterback Lukas O’ Conner, senior wide receivers Alex Jackson and Julius Wilson, and running back Kevin Porsche.
Culver (7-3 overall and 3-2 in Ocean play) managed to close league with a bang by routing host Beverly Hills, 43-0, last Friday.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, ended the rigorous Mission with a perfect 5-0 record and are 8-2 overall after the impressive win over Chaminade.
Replacing Bateman was senior running back Ronnie Vaughn and he ended up a very good substitute. Vaughn rushed for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries to lead Serra.
Also excelling was sophomore quarterback Jalen Greene, who ran for 135 yards and two TD’s and passed for 145 more and one score.
Two of the touchdowns that Greene was involved in, though, were seemingly lucky ones, but with his outstanding responsiveness. Greene’s bigger one came in the fourth quarter when, at the Chaminade 3-yard line, he was at the shot gun position but the ball was hiked over his head. Greene, though, picked up the ball under pressure and was able to run around to the left side of the field for the TD that gave Serra a 26-22 lead. Greene, then, threw a two-point conversion pass to wide receiver Terrance Harvey to up the Cavaliers’ lead to 28-22.
With 5:57 left in the game, Vaughn scored the decisive touchdown on a 23-yard run that gave Serra a 35-22 advantage.
The Cavaliers, though, had to withstand a rally attempt by the Eagles. Chaminade got back within six points when quarterback Logan Scott found wide receiver Kevin Lewallyn open for a 76-yard scoring play.
Chaminade, then, received its own onside kick at the Serra 34-yard line, but advanced just four yards and was stopped on downs.
The Eagles, on their next drive, drove from their own 10 to the Serra 37, but were stopped there as the Cavaliers held on.
“This was huge for us,” Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said about the win. “We came back and did what we had to do. I feel that we’ll see them, again. It was pretty exciting.”
Most of the game was a see-saw battle. Serra started the scoring with 3:26 remaining in the first period when Greene threw a 25-yard TD pass to sophomore wide receiver Adoore Jackson. The usually dependable kicker Eddie Garcia had a rare point after touchdown miss.
Chaminade was able to come back for an 8-6 advantage when junior running back Terrell Newby scored on a 4-yard run, that was followed by his two-point conversion run.
The Cavaliers came back with two second quarter touchdowns for a 20-8 halftime lead. The first came on a 1-yard run by Vaughn, that was set up by another bad snap that went Greene’s way. He took the ball at the Eagle six and ran it to the one. Freshman running back Malik Roberson gave Serra a two-touchdown lead on a 15-yard TD run with 3:26 to go before intermission.
Chaminade took over in the third period with two touchdowns of its own to grab a 22-20 lead, as Newby scored both of them on runs of five and 46 yards.
Newby ran for 143 yards and three TD’s.
Despite the loss, the Eagles ended up seeded third in the playoffs as they host Ocean League runner-up Inglewood on Friday at 7 p.m. The Sentinels came off a 40-16 win over cross town rival Morningside last Thursday at Coleman Stadium.
St. Bernard finishes unbeaten: St. Bernard High’s football team ended its regular season with an undefeated 10-0 overall record, including 6-0 in the Del Rey League, after a 49-34 win over host Bishop Montgomery in the league showdown last Friday in Torrance.
The Vikings put the game away late in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard reception on a ball that was deflected off a diving teammate Kenny Rodriguez.
St. Bernard had an outstanding game by quarterback Christian Smith, who completed 19 of 34 passes for 261 yards and six touchdowns.
Christopher Mack caught eight of those passes for 152 yards and four TD’s, while Josh Hill added six receptions for 58 yards and two scores.
Both teams were tied at 21 at halftime before St. Bernard took the lead for good with Smith completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mack.
The Knights, who are 7-3 overall and finished Del Rey in second place at 5-1, were plagued with the loss of top running back Michael Turner who injured his left shoulder with just 5:31 into the game. In that little time, Turner rushed for 66 yards and one touchdown on seven carries.
Bishop Montgomery, though, managed to have a fine game by Blake Ault as he ran for 187 yards on 43 carries.
St. Bernard opens the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs as the No. 2 seed against South Torrance, which ended up tied for third place with Compton Centennial in the Ocean League but ended up only receiving an at-large berth due to its league loss to the Apaches, Friday at 7 p.m. The Vikings are seeded behind No. 1 Lompoc, last year’s champion that is unbeaten at 10-0 and won the Los Padres League. The Spartans are coming off a heartbreaking 17-14 loss at El Segundo in the league finale. The Pioneer League race was extremely tight between co-champions Torrance and El Segundo (4-1) and co-third place teams Centennial and South (3-2). Only a week earlier, the four teams were tied for first place.
Bishop Montgomery, meanwhile, is at home against the Pioneer’s other co-third place squad, Centennial, Friday at 7 p.m.
El Segundo pulls off Pioneer title tie: El Segundo High’s football team ended up co-Pioneer League champions with Torrance after a thrilling 17-14 home victory over defending champion and Northwest Division runner-up South Torrance last Thursday.
The Eagles scored the winning three points on a 25-yard field goal by Leo Fahmie with 1:15 remaining in the game.
El Segundo (6-4, 4-1) was trailing the Spartans, 14-0, in the first quarter but rallied to pull the game out.
The Eagles scored their first TD on a 42-yard interception return from Jamie Stewart in the third quarter.
El Segundo finally caught South early in the fourth period when quarterback Daniel Zeman found Kendall Brown for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
The Spartans (5-5, 3-2) started fast as James Hapgood intercepted a Zeman pass and returned the ball 25 yards for the score. Brandon Loera, then, scored on a 2-yard run, but was broke a leg later in the game and will not be able to participate in the first round playoff game at second seed St. Bernard Friday. Loera ended up rushing for 59 yards on 20 carries.
Since the Eagles lost to Torrance earlier in league, the Tartars were declared champions and received the playoffs’ No. 1 berth from the league. El Segundo starts at home against Cantwell-Sacred Heart, the third place team from the Del Rey League, Friday at 7 p.m.
Torrance closed out its regular season by routing cross town rival and host North Torrance, 41-13, last Thursday. The injury plagued Saxons, who were preseason favorites to win the league due to the return of major college prospect running back-linebacker Ryan McDaniel, ended up a disappointing fifth place at 1-4 and were 2-8 overall. McDaniel had a season ending injury in North’s second game against Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula on Sept. 9.
The Tartars continued to be led by premiere athlete Tyrone Taylor, who scored two touchdowns and passed for two more. Taylor, recently, signed a baseball letter-of-intent to Cal State Fullerton.
Torrance hosts Santa Ynez, an at-large team from the Los Padres League, in the first round Friday at 7 p.m.
Last Week’s Results:
Thursday, Nov. 10:
Bay League: Redondo 21, Mira Costa 7; Palos Verdes 35, Peninsula 3; West Torrance 46, Leuzinger 0.
Ocean League: Inglewood 40, Morningside 16; Culver City 43, Beverly Hills 0.
Pioneer League: Torrance 41, North Torrance 13; El Segundo 17, South Torrance 14; Centennial 34, Lawndale 12.
CIF-L.A. City Section:
Marine League: Carson 36, Gardena 7; San Pedro 37, Banning 0; Narbonne 68, Washington 0.
Western League: Westchester 31, Fairfax 21.
Friday, Nov. 11:
Del Rey League: St. Bernard 49, Bishop Montgomery 34; Bosco Tech 37, Mary Star 12.
Mission League: Serra 35, Chaminade 29.
Ocean League: Santa Monica 45, Hawthorne 26.
Prep League: Chadwick 46, Flintridge Prep 7.
CIF-SS Eight Man Division I Playoffs: Avalon 55, Pacific Lutheran 20.
Bay: Palos Verdes 5-0, 8-2; Redondo 4-1, 5-5; Mira Costa 3-2, 4-6; West Torrance 2-3, 6-4; Peninsula 1-4, 5-5; Leuzinger 0-5, 0-10.
Del Rey: St. Bernard 6-0, 10-0; Bishop Montgomery 5-1, 6-4; Cantwell 4-2, 7-3; Bosco Tech 3-3, 6-4; Verbum Dei 2-4, 5-5; La Salle 1-5, 1-9; Mary Star 0-6, 0-10.
Mission: Serra 5-0, 8-2; Chaminade 4-1, 8-2; St. Francis 3-2, 8-2; St. Paul 2-3, 6-4; Harvard-Westlake 1-4, 3-7; Cathedral 0-5, 2-8.
Ocean: Santa Monica 5-0, 9-1; Inglewood 4-1, 5-5; Culver City 3-2, 7-3; Hawthorne 1-4, 5-5; Morningside 1-4, 4-6; Beverly Hills 1-4, 2-8.
Pioneer: Torrance 4-1, 6-4; El Segundo 4-1, 6-4; Centennial 3-2, 7-3; South Torrance 3-2, 5-5; North Torrance 1-4, 2-8; Lawndale 0-5, 1-9.
CIF-L.A. City Section:
Marine: San Pedro 5-0, 10-0; Narbonne 4-1, 7-3; Carson 3-2, 5-5; Gardena 2-3, 3-7; Banning 1-4, 3-7; Washington 0-5, 2-8.
This Week’s Playoffs:
CIF-L.A. City Section:
Friday, Nov. 18: Division I: Gardena at San Pedro, 7 p.m.; Reseda at Narbonne, 7 p.m.; Garfield at Carson, 7 p.m.; Westchester at West Adams Prep, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 18:
Northwest Division: South Torrance at St. Bernard, 7:30 p.m.; Santa Ynez at Torrance, 7:30 p.m.; Cantwell at El Segundo, 7:30 p.m.; Compton Centennial at Bishop Montgomery, 7 p.m.
Western Division: Culver City at Serra, 7 p.m.; Inglewood at Chaminade, 7:30 p.m.
Northern Division: Hart vs. Palos Verdes at Mira Costa High, 7:30 p.m.; St. Bonaventure at Redondo, 7:30 p.m.; Mira Costa at Oaks Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Northeast Division: Chadwick at Mojave, 7 p.m.
Snyder’s Top 10: 1. Serra (8-2), 2. San Pedro (10-0), 3. Narbonne (8-2), 4. Palos Verdes (8-2), 5. St. Bernard (10-0), 6. Carson (5-5), 7. Inglewood (5-5), 8. Culver City (7-3), 9. Torrance (6-4), 10. Redondo (5-5).