Crenshaw may have started the year 1-4, but after their first two league games, their season is back on track with no signs of future derailment.
Not only did they thrash cross-town rival Dorsey 46-28 in a game they dominated from the start, they made a statement that could be a dangerous team come playoff time in the City.
In front of a sell-out crowd who came out for homecoming, the Cougars (3-4, 2-0 in league) jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead while limiting Dorsey to only one first down and forcing two fumbles.
The Dons (4-3, 1-1) got back on track in the third quarter behind the speedy feet of tailback Johnathan Franklin. His 100(something) yards led to two quick touchdown drives that cut the deficit to 28-14.
But the Cougars regained the momentum as sophomore Geno Hall returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Like a blender, Hall sliced, diced and spun his way around the defense for 86 yards and the Dons, trailing 34-14 at that point, never came close again.
Down the stretch, turnovers killed any chance for a Dorsey comeback. They finished with six total, including five fumbles – the last one occurring with under a minute that led to the final Cougar touchdown.
Crenshaw quarterback Cameron Hart led the way with by going 12-for-21 with 193 yards and a touchdown pass to Noel Grigsby. He also had two rushing touchdowns in the first half while effectively managing the game for the Cougars.
“Before today, my varsity record against them was 2-1 and I didn’t want to leave with the series tied up,” Hart said. “To go out with a bang my last year and [celebrate] on the home field at homecoming, everything is just right.”
When Hart wasn’t passing the ball with precision, he handed it off to the tailback duo of Curtis Price and Hayes Pullard, whose running controlled the clock and kept Dorsey’s speed on the bench.
Price finished with 32 carries for 145 yards while Pullard had 10 carries for 38 yards.
“We just had to pound it because they weren’t that tough in the trenches. It was running back versus running back and I guess I won,” Price said.
According to Coach Robert Garrett, they actually had a much different strategy coming into the game.
“Our plan really was to try and contain [Franklin], but we didn’t do that. But we made some plays and executed [well] so we’ll take the win,” Garrett said.
Franklin finished with over 200 yards rushing for the third time this year but it was in vain as Dorsey’s miscues were too great to overcome.
“If we started off slow we were going to be in trouble and that’s exactly what happened,” Dorsey Coach Paul Knox said after the game, “You can’t get down by 28 points and have all those turnovers and expect to win.”
The home crowd was definitely a factor as their non-stop energy combined with the DJ blaring hip-hop from the speakers provided a sonic boost to the team’s morale.
Because of the crowd and the history of gang activity surrounding the schools, there was a larger than normal police presence at Friday’s game. They also set up a perimeter around campus so after the lot filled up, parking was restricted to two blocks away and beyond.
There were no reports of any major incidents as the fans focused on enjoying the game and homecoming festivities and at game’s end, the crowd left without any noticeable problems.
Right now, Crenshaw is in the driver’s seat in the Coliseum League and if recent history stays true, that is where they’ll finish in three weeks as the winner of the “The Classic” has gone to win the league over the last five years.
The league title has switched hands the last three seasons (Dorsey winning in 2004 and 2006 while Crenshaw won in 2005) and it looks like it will tilt in Crenshaw’s favor this season.
With their balanced offense and perhaps the best receiving corps in the City, the Cougars could very well be a sleeper team when the playoffs start next month.