Crenshaw-Dorsey rivalry takes center stage
When neighborhood rivals Crenshaw (8-0) and Dorsey (7-1) clash on field, it represents a community coming together and celebrating some of the best it has offered.Â This year, with Crenshaw in the hunt for a state title, the anticipation has been higher than recent years.Â
-Jason Lewis for Sentinel
Most anticipated game in years has community abuzz
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Sports Editor
For the past month, it’s been the same question from football fans around South Los Angeles. “When do Crenshaw and Dorsey play?”
On Friday, fans and alumni will finally get their wish as Crenshaw and Dorsey High School face off in perhaps the most anticipated meeting in the history of their rivalry.
The stakes are never higher. Crenshaw at 8-0 is on track for not just a City Section title but a possible berth in the CIF state bowl game. Dorsey at 7-1 is coming off a rebuilding year in 2008.
And a community that has rallied behind both schools will once again come alive only three weeks after Taste of Soul brought over 100,000 people to Crenshaw Blvd.
It’s always been more than a game around here. Most students at both schools started together at Audubon Middle School on Martin Luther King Boulevard, just east of Crenshaw Boulevard.
They work together, hang out together but for one week, they lay friendships at the gate and pick up their school banner proudly.
Crenshaw and Dorsey are also among the few remaining schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District with a predominantly African-American student body. It stands one of the few things left that rallies the community
Over the past 20-plus seasons, both programs have had constants in head coaches Robert Garrett and Paul Knox. Knox has won four upper division City titles and Garrett has won one in 2005 and both among the longest tenured coaches in the City Section.
They’ve not only sent several players to Division I colleges and the NFL, they’ve won with an emphasis on teaching the game and molding boys into men.
Gang tensions between the Bloods and Crips once made the rivalry notorious for more reasons than just football. It was 20 years ago this year that a shooting incident changed the rivalry–the game was played during the day until 1997.
But the rivalry is more famous for the players it’s produced in recent years. Stafon Johnson left Dorsey as one of the most decorated players in City Section history before heading to USC.
Lately it’s been UCLA that’s enjoyed the fruits of the clash. Former Dons Johnathan Franklin and Rahim Moore lead the team in rushing and interceptions, respectively, Brian Price (Crenshaw) leads the team in sacks and Reggie Carter (Crenshaw) is second in tackles.
They are only the latest to shine in a rivalry that produced Super Bowl champions in Wendell Tyler, Eric Yarber, Butch Johnson and Keyshawn Johnson. In fact, both schools have seen a combined 10 players play in the NFL championship.
These are the things that make it special for the fans and the City Section. And this year, both schools have given the City pride.
No team has made the CIF state bowl game in its four year existence and Crenshaw is bidding to be the first City school to play in it. They are also attempting to be the first City school to be undefeated since Banning in 1980.
Not to be outdone, Dorsey is looking to play spoiler. The last time they played at Crenshaw, the Dons came in as the favorite and lost 46-29. A win Friday would give them their first in the rivalry since 2006.
It’s never been a one-sided affair. It went back and forth before Crenshaw gained the upper hand in the late 1990’s. Dorsey resumed control in the early part of this decade before the Cougars won three of the last four meetings.
Anything can happen in the rivalry and fans have been waiting two months to see how it will play out. On Friday, the Coliseum Classic will answer all questions as the most anticipated meeting in years will have the eyes of a city playing close attention.