Serra celebrates their 2nd State Bowl championship over the past four years. Photo by Williams “Jaye” Johnson
Serra senior running back scored on touchdown runs of one, 57, and 27 yards, all in the first quarter. Photo by William “Jaye” Johnson
Serra routes Oakdale 42-15. Long Beach Poly falls to Granite Bay 21-20.
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
When Gardena Serra and Oakdale took the field for the Division II State Bowl title game one thing was clear. Serra was really fast, and Oakdale just could not come close to keeping up.
The route was on from the get go, as Serra had one big play after another in the first half. They led 21-0 in the first quarter, and 28-0 at halftime. It seemed like nearly every play that there was a Serra ball carrier running in open field, and Serra’s defense was not giving Oakdale anything.
At the end of the 1st quarter, Serra had out gained Oakdale 194 yards to 36.
Serra completed their scoring outburst midway through the third quarter when they took a 42-0 lead. Oakdale scored two second half touchdowns when the game was clearly out of reach.
Senior running back Marques Rodgers only had five carries in the game, and three of those went for touchdowns. His first two touchdowns went for 27 and 57 yards, and his final touchdown of the night, which was at the end of the first quarter, was a one-yard run.
Senior quarterback Jalen Green threw two touchdown passes. Both to junior receiver Adoree’ Jackson. The first one went for 50 yards, and the second for 27 yards. Both came in the second quarter.
In the third quarter Jackson, who is the punter, saw a weakness in the Oakdale punt coverage team, and decided to run the ball instead of kicking it on a 4th and 31 play, from Serra’s own 22 yard line! He must have been feeling pretty invincible to attempt to run for the first down, because he raced all the way to the endzone for a 78-yard touchdown run.
Jackson pulled off that same play two weeks earlier in the Southern Section Division IV championship game against Chaminade. That play also resulted in a touchdown.
Serra finished the game with 389 rushing yards, with 112 of them coming from Greene, 96 from Rodgers.
For a third game in a row, Serra did not turn the ball over.
This has been a great season for Serra, who has wins over Chaminade, Huntington Beach Edison, Cathedral, Long Beach Poly, and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. This is Serra’s third trip to the State Bowl in four years, and they won the title for the second time with the first title coming in 2009.
As for Long Beach Poly, they had a great run to the State Bowl, and they nearly pulled it off.
In the Division I title game they led for a good amount contest, which was a defensive battle for the most part. Poly scored first off of a trick play. They ran a double reverse flea flicker, and junior quarterback Eban Jackson hit senior running back Gerald Wicks for a 28-yard touchdown.
Granite Bay was able to get on the board with a field goal late in the second quarter, and Poly went into the locker room with a 7-3 halftime lead.
Granite Bay played tough defense, and held Poly’s rushing attack in check. Poly has been at their best when they have been able to grind it out on the ground. With a lead, it seemed like they could continue doing that, but they turned to their passing attack, which did not do them well at all. On the night they threw five interceptions, one of which was returned for a Granite Bay touchdown.
Even with the mishaps, Poly was in the game throughout. They trailed 14-7 late in the third quarter when Jackson hit junior receiver John Smith on a 28-yard touchdown, tying the game.
The key mistake turned out to be a missed extra point when Poly took a 20-14 lead late in the fourth quarter off of a 10-yard touchdown run by senior running back Manusamoa Lu’uga. Granite Bay responded with a touchdown of their own, and they took a 21-20 lead by making their extra point.
Poly played tough defense, but it seemed like they should have stuck to the ground game, even though Granite Bay was playing tough defense. At some point they could have worn out Granite Bay’s defense and sat on their lead.
Poly still had an unbelievable run. After a 1-3 start to the season they were not expected to make it very far. But they went on an 11-game winning streak, which included wins over Southern Section powers Bishop Amat, Mission Viejo, St. John Bosco, Mater Dei, and Clovis North.
Sentinel Final Top 10 Rankings
Narbonne started the season as the No. 1 ranked team. They were undefeated during the regular season, won the City Section championship, but they fell short in a close loss in the State’s regional finals.
Gardena Serra and Long Beach Poly were highly ranked for most of the season, and they were able to leap over Crenshaw and Venice by winning Southern Section division titles.
Out of Serra, Poly, and Narbonne, Serra was the only one to win a state title, and Poly made it to the State Bowl games. But even though Narbonne did not make it to the State Bowl games, they were clearly the best team in the area.
Narbonne played in a tougher division in the State playoffs, and they defeated Poly and Serra this season. Narbonne routed Poly 56-0, and convincingly defeated Serra 29-7. Narbonne also defeated Mater Dei, Lakewood, and Palos Verdes. Serra, Poly, and Palos Verdes all won Southern Section division champions, and Narbonne defeated all of them.
Narbonne defeated both representatives from the Southern Section’s PAC-5 championship game (Poly and Mater Dei), which may be the toughest division in the Southern Section. And Narbonne defeated a State champion (Serra) and a State Bowl representative (Poly).
In the Sentinel’s final Top 10, Narbonne defeated five of the teams on the list. Without question they were the best team in the area.
1. Narbonne (14-1)
2. Gardena Serra (14-2)
3. Long Beach Poly (12-4)
4. Crenshaw (12-2)
5. Venice (10-3)
6. Cathedral (10-3)
7. Carson (6-7)
8. San Pedro (8-4)
9. Jefferson (9-4)
10. Culver City (7-5)