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Jalen Greene, quarterback
John Houston, linebacker
Highly Touted Serra Stars Put Team FIRST
Serra High School of Gardena started the decade in 2000 by winning just two football games, but has since established itself as one of the premier programs in the nation. The Cavs captured both CIF-Division II and Division II State titles last season and finished with a compelling 14-2 record. It marked the third consecutive year that coach Scott Altenberg’s outfit had earned a berth to the state title game.
Just how have the Cavs done it at a private Catholic school of roughly 300 students in an academic environment where many parents can’t afford the cost of private school and Charter Schools are becoming a viable option?
“It was a building thing. We have an amazing support staff here at Serra High School, that’s the thing. From our counselors, to our teachers, to our administrators they’re so supportive that once we built it we were able to maintain it because of them,” Altenberg told the Sentinel this week.
He said that it wasn’t easy with just 50 kids total in the program at the beginning.
“We built it up slowly the right way and mining the details and once we got where we wanted to be we were able to grow exponentially because of the support system.”
The Cavs will begin the season next week as the Sentinel’s No. 1 ranked team and will be ranked as high as No. 6 nationally and various polls.
To say Serra football has arrived would be a massive understatement. Serra has played for either the division championship or state crown eight times in the past 10 years. It has won three CIF Division titles, been runner-up twice, runner-up in one state bowl game and won the past two consecutive.
Seventeen players have went on to play D-I college football during the past three years including the top receiver in the nation Marqise Lee of USC.
This season the Cavs are expecting about eight to nine players to advance to D-I ranks including its best player Adoree Jackson who stars both defensively and offensively.
“It kind of begins with Adoree Jackson. He is a tremendous athlete, talented great leader, and great kid. He will play offense, he will play defense and on all of the special teams. He will do pretty much everything. He’s a jack of all trades for us,” stated Altenberg.
Jackson isn’t the only one, junior linebacker John Houston (6’2, 205) accumulated 128 tackles, a sack and five pass deflections last year and is considered the No. 16 prospect in the nation for the class of 2014. Oh, by the way he runs a 4.6 forty-yard dash and runs the 400 meters on the track team in 51 flat.
Houston has already been offered scholarships by USC, UCLA, Florida, Florida State, Washington and Washington State, Ole Miss and Oklahoma.
He is clearly aware of the Cavalier legacy of producing collegiate stars and NFL players such as Buffalo Bills receiver Robert Woods and Duke Uba Ihenacho of the 49ers.
“It (former players) influenced me a lot because Serra has a great program and brought a lot of guys out. It’s a good education here and the whole all around feeling is good here,” Houston explained.
Houston loves to hit and fill the gaps and is another of the primary reasons why Altenberg feels this could be one of the best defensive teams he’s had.
“We have some of the best linebackers in California,” Altenberg added. “Dwight Williams who is going to be a senior and of course junior John Houston both of them have been amazing and I think our defense is going to be one of the best around.”
That’s a scary proposition for the opponents on the Cavs schedule because the team will also return three-year starting quarterback Jalen Greene (6’3, 196).
“Having a quarterback who’s been a three year starter. Jalen Greene is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s committed to Boise State, he’s a great player,” Altenberg added.
For all of the outstanding players that Altenberg has coached, he contends that one of the greatest attributes they all have is their unselfishness.
“It starts with them buying into to who are. There is more to Serra football than individual athletes. We teach that we are a family and these kids know that. They are just the next guy in that family and that team and it’s their job do their job and focus on their role and they buy into it. I think the biggest success story we have at Serra High School is creating great teammates. These kids are fantastic teammates, they are not selfish and they are not about themselves. It happens a lot in sports and these kids aren’t like that. There will be a game where a five star kid will get three balls thrown his way and if you can’t handle that then he’s not in the right place. We’ve had plenty of kids that wanted to be about themselves, but they never make it. They end up leaving and going somewhere else to get more of the spotlight,” concluded Altenberg.