The Crenshaw Cougars football team concluded their season with a state championship and CIF accolades. Seven players were named on the CIF All-City Open Division first team, including senior quarterback Isaiah Johnson, senior linebacker Patrick Willis Jr. and sophomore defensive back Jared Greenfield. Five players were named on the Open Division second team.
The Crenshaw Cougars outlasted the Placer Hillmen 34-31 in the Division 4AA State Championship.
Placer touted the strong talent of senior fullback Mario Perez and junior linebacker Marshall Chapman. Crenshaw battled with senior running backs Solomon Hassen and Shawn Prejean.
The Cougar’s Johnson scored first after Hassen gained a big advance down the field. Placer responded with a 49-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Travis Warren.
Johnson was sacked and a Hillmen player recovered his fumble. Starting from the Crenshaw 33, Placer advanced by carries. Junior running back Ryan Arnel gave Placer the lead with a five-yard rush from the third and goal.
A few plays later, Johnson connected with Hassen for a 36-yard play and the Cougars reached Placer’s 22 yard-line by the end of the first quarter.
“They picked us up several plays,” said Crenshaw senior defensive back Joseph Williams about their offense. “Every defensive play, I kept telling my teammates, ‘every time they score, [we’re] still in it. So keep your head in it.’”
Johnson sent a 22-yard touchdown pass to Rayshawn on the first play in the second period, tying the game at 14. The Hillmen offense knew how to get first downs, as Placer junior quarterback Michael Stuck sent the ball to junior tight end Louis Fudge, creating a 49-yard play. A carry from junior running back Brad Bishop would edge the Placer’s score to 21.
The Cougars struggled to get outside of their own territory. On a third down at their own 41-yard line, Johnson launched a deep pass to Prejean and the game was tied at 21.
The Crenshaw defense collected two sacks late in the second quarter. Placer ended the first half with Warren making an interception.
“Coach [Robert Garrett] told us in the locker room at halftime; he said ‘this game is not over,’” said Cougar senior wideout James Day. “He said ‘we’re gonna continue to score.’”
On the fifth play of the third quarter, Greenfield completed a nine-yard touchdown reception. The kick was no good and the Cougars had 27 points. The Hillmen rushed down the field and Chapman helped Placer secure a 28-27 lead.
Johnson, Hassen and Day made strong rushing plays and Prejean scored. Crenshaw failed a two-point conversion attempt and had 33 points to end the third period.
The Placer Hillmen opened the fourth with a 56-yard touchdown passing play to Warren and they clinched a two-point lead. With 10:04 left in the game, senior wide receiver Dennis Patrick edged the score up to 40-35 in favor of Crenshaw.
Chapman rebutted with a 15-yard touchdown carry; after a successful two-point conversion, the Hillmen had the lead 43-40. Johnson’s scrambles earned two first downs, he then created a 28-yard passing play with Rayshawn.
“I just seen the open spaces,” Johnson said. “Whatever was open, my receiver was there for it.”
On a third and goal from the Hillmen’s 7-yard line, Johnson sent a touchdown to Hassen and the score was pegged at 46-43 with 1:41 left in the game.
Placer reached Crenshaw territory in five plays. With the Hillmen’s offense at Crenshaw’s 38, Stuck sent the ball in the end-zone but senior defensive back Joseph Williams intercepted the ball as time ran out, giving the Crenshaw Cougars the state title.