Saturday, September 23, 2017
Crystal Ball Reveals CIF Predictions
By Evan Barnes (Sports Editor)
Published December 11, 2008


You want predictions on this football weekend? I got them right here…

Starting off in the City, I saw the triple-overtime thriller between Narbonne and San Pedro in October and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a repeat of regulation on Saturday.

Quick recap: San Pedro set the tone by being physical on defense, forcing early turnovers and relying on the ground game to keep Narbonne scoreless for 47 minutes.

Of course, the Gauchos could have won it in regulation had they made the extra point but their kicking game has improved since then. Diego Montoya made all two of his extra-point attempts and a field goal against Crenshaw.

The Pirates have gotten stingier on defense since that game (allowing a total of 24 points over the next six games after giving up 27 to Narbonne) and their front four, led by seniors Alonzo Lefridge and Michael Metcalf, are some of the hardest hitters you’ll find in the City.

But their offense has also caught up in the postseason. The Pirates have always had a tailback-by committee handle the dirty work, led by Joseph Deguchi and Robert Franco, and quarterback Barry Heads has gotten better each game.

On the other hand, the Gauchos have shown they can win games in any fashion. They can outscore you or they can play smash mouth football by relying on tailbacks Melvin Davis and Chris Ervin.

They also have what San Pedro lacks: a big-play threat in senior Byron Moore Jr., who scored on a 74-yard punt return last week against Crenshaw and set up another score with a 56-yard punt return.

The game won’t be determined by Narbonne’s skill players, though.  The ex-factor will be their offensive line and how often they can contain the Pirates’ front four.

It’s hard to pick a winner knowing it could go either way, but I’m going with the ever-slight edge to Narbonne. But expect a fierce, close game that will rank among the best City championships in recent memory…

With Westlake Village Oaks Christian and Gardena Serra, the prediction is tougher considering last year’s outcome.

The Lions shut out Serra’s offense – allowing only a kick-off return by Robert Woods – and the offense exploded behind tailback Malcolm Jones in the 44-7 victory.

So what’s changed this year?

Well, Serra is the fastest team I have seen so far. They are loaded with big-play threats in Woods and senior tailback Carl Winston while quarterback Ted Landers is a year wiser and far more accurate than he appeared last year (10-21, 107 yards)

Having been tested against Carson, Cathedral and Taft earlier this season and El Segundo last week, they know what it takes to win games and they’ll have no trouble being motivated for revenge.

On the other hand, Oaks Christian may have the famous names on their side but Jones, now a junior, is the key name to watch because he sets the tone for the Lions’ offense.

The defense has pitched four shutouts and has not let a team score more than 14 points all year. While their numbers may be skewed from playing lighter competition, there’s no mistaking they are a well-coached team that can capitalize on any mistake.

“They run the ball well, they throw the ball well, they stop the run, they stop the pass and, by the way, they have pretty good special teams.” Serra coach Scott Altenberg deadpanned.

Did I mention they have ended the past five seasons with a CIF title?

It’s going to be a tall order for Serra to end the Lions’ 20-game win streak, no matter how motivated they are. If the Cavaliers cause too many penalties like they did against El Segundo – 11 for 103 yards, including several personal fouls – they could pay for it on the scoreboard.

I’ve long suspected Oaks Christian took advantage of a light schedule this year so I’m going with Serra in an upset, assuming the Cavaliers will lay off the penalties…

I haven’t forgotten about my No. 1 team, Long Beach Poly, going for their 18th CIF-Southern Section title this Saturday night against Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro in the Pac-5 Division Final at Angel Stadium

Both are 13-0 and if you don’t know Tesoro’s story, they were 1-9 two years ago and won their first Pac-5 playoff games this year, ousting traditional powers Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran.

Alas, Poly will play the wicked stepmother to this Cinderella tale. Defense wins championships and the Jackrabbits have plenty of it to shut down Tesoro’s high-powered offense and advance to the state bowl championships next week at the Home Depot Center.

If you hoops fans want your basketball fix, the Ocean View Tournament of Champions will be wrapping up this week down in Huntington Beach. Check for more information on the Friday semifinals and the Saturday final.

There will also be great local games to check out (Crenshaw-Dorsey anyone?) so look at the prep schedule in this week’s paper to see what’s going on near you.

By the way, Westchester’s Tip-Off Classic had a new name behind it this year as Lakers forward and Comets alum Trevor Ariza lent his name to the tournament.

Ariza is the second Laker to have his name on a tournament this year as guard Jordan Farmar is sponsoring a tournament at his alma mater, Taft.

Categories: High School

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