Defense turns tide for Narbonne
STEPPING UP: Narbonne’s CJ Wiley had a touchdown and an interception on back-to-back plays to set tone for the Gauchos’ aggressive play in the second half of their 23-22 victory over San Pedro.Â – Jason Lewis for Sentinel
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Sports Editor
What a difference a week makes. Just ask Narbonne.
A week ago, they looked out of sync against Los Alamitos, unable to run the ball or stop it. Against San Pedro facing 20-8 deficit at halftime, they did both in the second half during their 23-22 comeback victory.
After giving up nearly 300 yards on the ground to Los Alamitos tailback Nick Richardson, Narbonne (3-3) held San Pedro to only 92 rushing yards. The Pirates could only muster two first downs in the second half – the last coming on the final drive.
“We went in the locker room, went over what they were doing, and we fixed it,” defensive back Bryan Douglas said, “We just played harder.”
There was plenty of tension in the first meeting between the schools since last year’s tie in the City Championship. At halftime, San Pedro fans booed Narbonne off the field only to see the players get fired up and egg them on for more.
Even Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas left the field upset after arguing with the officials over penalties. All that tension and emotion must have helped because they played aggressive the rest of the way.
Give credit to Narbonne’s linebackers using their speed to hold San Pedro tailback Cristian Farrow to only 42 yards on 19 carries after he averaged 114 yards in the previous five games. CJ Wiley had an interception and the defensive line recorded two late sacks that stopped San Pedro from making any serious threat in the end.
Their second half (202 yards of offense) resembled the team many thought they’d be when Chad Dashnaw transferred in the offseason.
As they walked to the field before the game, Narbonne’s players chanted “Four Time” over and over. It’s a pregame ritual that has a double meaning – the game length and the memory of fallen teammate Dannie Farber.
Farber, who was gunned down last spring, wore No. 4 and played his last game against San Pedro in the City Championship last year. And few were more motivated to remember him than his best friend, senior tailback Melvin Davis.
Davis, who has committed to Washington, rushed for 88 yards in the second half (128 total on 13 carries) and his speed was part of the reason the Gauchos’ offense clicked in the second half. His three-yard touchdown run with 4:46 left in the third quarter gave Narbonne the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We had to do it for Dannie, this is his biggest rival, we just came out here and made him proud,” he said.
Since picking up 158 yards in the team’s first game, he’s had trouble being consistent with no back-to-back 100-yard games this season. After two straight weeks with under 100 yards, he turned back to his inspiration and helped the Gaucho offense get on track.
Â “Melvin ran the ball like he’s been trying to do for five weeks. He’s been running hard every week and he got his yards tonight,” Narbonne coach Manuel Douglas said.
Whether or not the Gauchos can compete with Carson will rest entirely on how he plays in league competition. When he’s on his game, few tailbacks in the City can match his power and speed…
It’s not too early to start talking high school basketball, especially when the Westchester Tip-Off Classic announced their schedule with the City’s three best teams in it.
Westchester and Crenshaw will be in one bracket and Taft will be the other. Crenshaw hung tough with the Comets twice in the summer but they might be a bit weaker with senior Geoffrey Allen transferring to Pacific Hills.
Of course, everyone wants to see the host and Taft in a City title rematch – which could happen in the finals – and both will be among the deepest in the state. It starts Nov. 30 and mark your calendars for Dec. 4 (semifinals) and Dec. 5 (finals)