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Prep Report: Unfinished Business for Serra's Woods
ON THE RUN: Serraâ€™s Robert Woods has made an impact as wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist but off the field, heâ€™s also done it as a role model and standout citizen at his school.Â - Scott KurtzUSC commit hopes to end playoff run with CIF title, state bowl game.
When Serra's Robert Woods received his invitation to the Army All-American Bowl on November 9, he was showered with the expected accolades.
A leader, a role model for the student body, an example of doing things the right way. Not one mention of his ability on the football field.
It made you forget that the senior is one of the most electrifying two-way players in the state as a wide receiver and defensive back (45 catches, 711 yards, nine touchdowns with five interceptions this year). Or that he's the No. 3 rated player in the nation according to Rivals.com
And he'd have it no other way as the 6-foot-1, 185 lbs. USC commit has said more about his talent with his actions not his mouth.
"He's a real solid individual and leads by example." Serra coach Scott Altenberg said, adding that Woods had never missed a practice in three-plus years on varsity. "None of this has gone to his head."
Part of being well-grounded comes from his family. He accepted his Army All-American jersey in the school gymnasium with his parents Sharon and Robert Woods Jr. by his side.
Across from the podium sat close to 20 family members and friends who supported him. But there was one person who wasn't there that was on everyone's minds.
Woods mentioned his sister Olivia, who passed away from cancer at 17 in April 2007. He called her his inspiration because it was her final words -"Be a role model" - that spurred him to be more than just an athlete.
The school planted a tree in her memory and it was that tree, Sharon Woods said, that forever endeared the school to the family.
It's her presence that drove to him to be on the All-State sophomore team and an All-State First Team selection in his junior year (81 catches, 1,378 yards and 19 touchdowns). It motivated him in track-and-field last year as he anchored the Cavaliers 4x100 meter relay team to state title.
And it will drive him as the Cavaliers start their playoff push against Oak Park Friday. But one hurdle remains for them - Westlake Village Oaks Christian in a possible championship meeting.
"That's our rival right there," Woods said. "[They're] on our minds because we've lost to them in back to back years."
Serra has gone 33-3 so far in his last three years on varsity, but all that matters is avenging the last two losses to Oaks Christian in the playoffs. Last year saw a 56-21 drubbing in the Northwest Division championship that left a bitter taste in his team's mouth.
Woods has already accomplished most of his football goals - three league titles, the Army All-American Bowl Game with his friend Sean Parker (Narbonne) - and that's the one thing left. A CIF championship and perhaps a state bowl invitation.
He's already taken care of his future, committing to USC and staying sharp in the classroom (3.5 grade point average). And he'll be surrounded by former Pop Warner teammates in Lakewood senior Dion Bailey and current Trojans freshman Byron Moore Jr.
But for this third-generation football player - Robert Jr. won a state title with Banning in 1981 and played at Grambling while Robert Sr. played for Tougaloo College in Mississippi - it's all about taking care of unfinished business the next three weeks.
"It's going to be different this time," Woods promised.