Tuesday, July 22, 2014
FOLLOW US: 

Hmmm, don't I know you from somewhere?

The teams that reached championship weekend of the CIF playoffs might be asking this question as several matchups will be rematches against teams they know quite well.

Marine League rivals Narbonne and San Pedro will meet in the City Section final Saturday at the Coliseum, a replay of their triple-overtime thriller on October 24, and Gardena Serra will meet Westlake Village Oaks Christian Friday in the Southern Section Northwest Division finals, a rematch of last year's quarterfinal.

As an added bonus, all four teams have mirror records (Narbonne and San Pedro are both 12-1, Serra and Oaks Christian both 13-0).

Looking at the City final, this will be San Pedro's second trip in three years and their seventh under head coach Mike Walsh. They'll be going for their first title since 1997.

Contrast that with Narbonne making their first-ever appearance in the 4A Division Final. They won Invitational Championships in 2001 and 2002; the latter during head coach Manuel Douglas' first season.

"We're both 12-1, we're rivals, where else would you want to be on a Saturday? It's like a college football game," Douglas said.

 The teams bring different styles of play - Narbonne's explosive, spread offense versus San Pedro's smash-mouth defense and ground game - but the Gauchos have found success on the defensive end in the playoffs.

It helped them withstand a furious comeback from Birmingham in the City quarterfinals and again against Crenshaw in the semifinals. Despite being outplayed most of the game, they stopped the Cougars on fourth down with over two minutes left to set up the Gauchos' game-winning drive.

The win was sweeter for the seniors who saw the last two seasons end to Crenshaw and it's one more stepping stone for a program that is starting to shed the label of not winning big games.

"Every year since I've been here, they've always called Narbonne chokers," said senior Byron Moore Jr., "This was just another one of our demons we had to get past,"

Moore did his part with a 74-yard touchdown on a punt return in the first quarter and set up a field goal with a 53-yard return in the second.

The Pirates have made their playoff run look easy, only giving one touchdown this postseason. In beating Taft last week, they bottled up the City's best tailback in D.J. Morgan by holding the USC-bound junior to 31 yards on 11 carries in the Pirates' 27-7 victory.

Leading the defense has been seniors Alonzo Lefridge and Michael Metcalf along with sophomore Kristofer Bass, who led the team with 11 tackles against Taft.

With plenty of familiarity on both sides, the game is another reason why the Marine League is once again the most competitive in City. They've had a participant in the City Championship for the third consecutive year and now they have a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup to determine who leaves as City champions.

 "Whoever wins that game can say they've beaten the best," Douglas said.

As for Serra, who will appear in their third CIF final in school history, this is the matchup they have been waiting a year for. Oaks Christian crushed them 44-7 last year and that memory is still fresh.

"It's [going to be] redemption and payback," junior wide receiver Robert Woods said.

However, they weren't guilty of overlooking El Segundo in their Northwest Division semi-final as the Eagles gave them one more quality matchup to get ready for the championship on Friday

The 35-27 victory saw Serra's leading performers rise to the occasion. Senior tailback Carl Winston had 124 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries and Woods caught 16 passes for 169 yards while showing his effectiveness on both sides of the ball.

On El Segundo's opening play of the second half, he intercepted their pass and, six plays later, scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Ted Landers.

But the momentum shift came courtesy of junior Devin Spann just before halftime. The junior caught a tipped pass intended for Woods and ran for a 55-yard touchdown tie the game at 21.

Call it a Hail Mary answered with the Immaculate Reception.

Afterwards, it was time to finally get ready for an opponent who's ended every season since 2003 as Southern Section champions and kept the Cavaliers' offense scoreless last year while forcing three fumbles.

"They're a great football team and if we're going to beat them, we're going to have to play a great game," Serra coach Scott Altenberg said.

They'll also have to be more disciplined as they racked up 11 penalties for 103 yards against El Segundo.

Oaks Christian got plenty of attention this year for some of their players being the offspring of athletes and actors, but on the field, they have blown away the competition.

Junior quarterback Nick Montana - the son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana - has thrown for 2,077 yards and 30 touchdowns in his first year with the Lions while junior tailback Malcolm Jones, who torched Serra for 169 yards and two touchdowns last year, has 1,622 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns this year.

"It's going be to our best against their best," Winston said.

So if this weekend feels like a bit of déjà vu, it's because it is. Two teams are hoping for revenge while two hope that history repeats in their favor.

And all of them want the end the year with the same title: Champions.

Category: Football


 

Slideshows





Click to
Win!