20 Year Title Drought Ends for Serra in the Rain
It was a title-filled weekend for Gardena Serra and Crenshaw as they both won their school's second division championship (Note: Crenshaw won a lower division City title in 1991). At top, Robert Woods, Onnochi Ani and Francisco Olloqui hold Serra's plaque while Crenshaw's defense (bottom) showed off why they held Narbonne to only 14 points.Â Serra tailback Shaquille Richard, center, fights off a couple of several Oaks Christian defenders on this run. (Nick Koza for Sentinel) TIME TO SHINE: Serra junior George Farmer had two touchdowns in the Northwest Division championship game and showed why he'll be the top receiver in his class next season. (Nick Koza for Sentinel)Crenshaw senior wide receiver Geno Hall, who had an interception on defense, celebrates after his team's 34-14 (Jason Lewis for Sentinel)Â Crenshaw fullback Hayes Pullard drives his way to the end zone past several Narbonne defenders. The Cougars outgained Narbonne 378-108 in total rushing yardage. (Jason Lewis for Sentinel)
Â Cavaliers to face Marin Catholic in Div. III state title game
No matter what happens to Gardena Serra in the Division III state title game Saturday, they'll always have the memory of the CIF championship game against Westlake Village Oaks Christian, one of the greatest games ever played.
It started with Oaks Christian scoring a long touchdown on the first play of the game. It ended with Serra kicker Francisco Olloqui scoring on the last play, an extra point in overtime to clinch the Cavaliers' 42-41 win for the CIF Northwest Division title and set off a scene of bedlam on their field
In between saw memorable performances and two 13-0 teams fighting all with they had for not just a title, but the chance to go the state title game. All while the rain soaked the field in the final quarter and overtime
Oaks Christian tailback Malcolm Jones had three touchdowns and 328 yards on 40 carries and was an unstoppable force. Serra wide receiver Robert Woods had two touchdowns - including the game-tying one with five minutes left - to go along with an interception.
"Every big game, every big play, he makes it," Serra head coach Altenberg said of Woods. It was the effort that showed why he's going to USC and the Army All-American Bowl.
Serra junior George Farmer (136 yards, two touchdowns) showed why he'll be one of the best wide receivers in the state next year and the target of every Pac-10 school.
There was a gutsy effort from defensive back Devin Spann, who dislocated his left shoulder right before halftime. On Oaks Christian's first possession of the second half, quarterback Nick Montana threw his next pass into the arms of Spann, who took it back 70 yards for a touchdown.
"I guess he just threw it to me," said Spann, who still clutched his shoulder. "It was a game-changing play
It was the type of effort that made the rain-soaked game a classic. Oaks Christian scored first in overtime behind Jones' short run but missed the extra point to give the Cavaliers a chance.
"When they missed that extra point, I said I think we're going to win and I felt it." Altenberg said.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Serra wide receiver George Farmer (two touchdowns) was in tears as he ran to hug teammates and fans. Basketball head coach Dwan Hurt embraced football head coach Scott Altenberg with tears in his eyes.
Â "We wanted a chance to be in it at the end," Altenberg said. "The last two years it got away from us.Â It almost got away from us here but we got it back."
Oaks Christian had ended Serra's season the last two years, including last year's Northwest Division title game. But the win was more than just payback - it ended a 20-year drought since the school's last title in 1989, ironically defeating another 13-0 opponent in Lompoc.
"The third time was the charm for us," Spann said."
Under Altenberg's tenure, the Cavaliers had gone 13-0 three times only to lose in the final game. Now that they finally have their 14th win, they're ready for No. 15 on Saturday against Marin Catholic (14-1) at the Home Depot Center.
"We beat Oaks Christian so we know that we can beat anybody now," Woods said.
There's a bit of personal history at stake for Woods Saturday. He and his father, Robert Woods Jr., could become the first father-son combination to win a state title as the elder Woods won a mythical one with Banning in 1980.
Woods, Spann and Marcus Johnson could also add another state title to their career as they were part of the Cavaliers' state champion 4 x 100m relay squad in June.
The Serra fans already enjoyed one celebration this month and they'll be looking for one more in the first game of a state tripleheader this weekend.