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In the first meeting Chaminade staged a comeback over Gardena Serra. But this time around junior quarterback Jalen Greene and his teammates did not let Chaminade catch them. Photo by Jason Lewis
At the mid point of the high school football regular season, nobody would have thought that Gardena Serra and Long Beach Poly would still be playing right now, but after last weekend, they are champions of their respective divisions, and they are on their way to the State region championship bowl games.
Serra dropped two games earlier this season, losing to Narbonne and then to league rival Chaminade. But they rebounded and fought their way to the Southern Section’s Division IV championship game against Chaminade.
The first match up was wild, with Serra leading 20-7 in the third quarter before Chaminade scored three unanswered touchdowns to win the game 28-20.
Every year these two teams play a tight game, so the championship game seemed to have a Super Bowl type atmosphere before kickoff at Serra high school. Everybody on the field and in the stands knew that this game was going to be a war, and that’s exactly what these two teams produced. Neither team would let the other gain any real momentum in what turned out to be a back and fourth game.
Serra had their struggles on offense, but big plays from key players put them on the scoreboard. Their first touchdown happened when junior cornerback/punter Adoree’ Jackson faked a punt, took off running on a fourth and 10 play, and just refused to be tackled as he put two spin moves on Chaminade defenders. The play went for 42 yards.
Serra’s second touchdown came off of the first of two interceptions by junior linebacker Dwight Williams, who returned the ball for a 45-yard touchdown.
“I saw the quarterback get pressured from the D line,” Williams said. “They did a great job getting pressure on the quarterback. I think it was (senior defensive end) Nick Usher getting pressure on the quarterback on that play. He had nothing else to do but throw the ball. He tried to slip it in behind me but I made a play on it.”
Usher, who finished the season with 10 ½ sacks, and his fellow defensive linemen, pressured Chaminade’s quarterback all night.
“I know I made a big impact on defense,” Usher said. “I just had to get after the quarterback. That’s my specialty, so I had to get there.”
Even though their offense struggled all night, with the game on the line in the 4th quarter, they went on a 78-yard touchdown drive, which gave them a 30-21 lead. They went on to win 30-28, and they will face Edison in the CIF State region championship bowl game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Orange Coast College.
Poly, just like Serra, was in bad shape after some early season losses, but Poly was pretty much written off at 1-3, which included a 56-0 loss to Narbonne.
But Poly bounced back, knocked off undefeated Mission Viejo and St. John Bosco, who had only lost due to forfeiting early season victories, to make it to the PAC-5 championship game. Mater Dei did not really stand a chance against Poly, who won 35-17.
This game was not as close as the scoreboard indicated, as senior running back Manusamoa Luuga rushed for 130 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run.
This is not the same Poly team that was knocked around in the regular season. This is a championship team. Their season will continue this Friday against Clovis North at 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium at Long Beach City College.
DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
No. 1 Narbonne 25, No. 2 Crenshaw 0
No. 5 San Fernando 42, No. 6 Canoga Park 35
PAC-5 Division (I)
Long Beach Poly 35, No. 4 Mater Dei 17
Western Division (IV)
No. 4 Gardena Serra 30, No. 2 Chaminade 28
CIF STATE REGION CHAMPIONSHIP BOWL GAMES
Narbonne (14-0) vs. Corona Centennial (13-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Cerritos College
Long Beach Poly (11-3) vs. Clovis North (12-1), Friday, 7:30, Veterans Memorial Stadium, Long Beach City College
Serra (12-2) vs. Edison (13-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Orange Coast College
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