Serra High head football coach Scott Altenberg and his team decided to schedule as tough as a preseason schedule as possible but, somehow, the Cavaliers were able to get through the first three teams.
On Aug. 31 at Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego, the Cavaliers had to hold on for a 28-22 win over Desert Ridge High from Mesa, Arizona. Desert Ridge entered the contest ranked No. 4 in Arizona. On Sept. 6 at Oceanside High, the Cavaliers rallied from a two-touchdown fourth quarter deficit to top the host squad that was ranked No. 1 in the CIF-San Diego Section Division II, 50-39.
Last Friday at Serra, an inspired Knight team, already coming off a pair of impressive victories over two other highly regarded squads from Manhattan Beach Mira Costa and Del Oro in Northern California, had Serra, nationally ranked by several prep sports publications and websites, by the neck through three quarters. Notre Dame's stingy defense held the Cavaliers scoreless through three quarters with a narrow 6-0 lead, behind two field goals of 29 and 38 yards by senior kicker Lucas Alfonso.
But as always, Serra knows how to find a way to win.
The Cavaliers rallied for two touchdowns in regulation, then, in their second overtime period, the all-American combination of quarterback Jalen Greene and wide receiver Adoree Jackson connected for a 25-yard touchdown on that possession's first play as they went on to top the Knights, 20-13.
It was Jackson's second TD of the game. On the persuing kickoff after the Knights grabbed a 13-6 lead on a 50-yard TD pass from quarterback Grant Kraemer to wide receiver Koa Farmer, Jackson sprinted 80 yards for the score and kicker Sifa Maama added the point after touchdown to tie the game at 13 with 54 seconds left in regulation. Serra's defense held down Notre Dame to send the contest into overtime.
After the two teams failed to score as both kickers, Alfonso and Maama, missed field goals, Greene started fast by finding Jackson, who broke tackles and scored the winning touchdown.
The Cavalier defense held down the Knights on their next drive.
"For most of the game we were tired and we lost focus," Jackson, who was the 2012-13 California State Division IV Athlete of the Year by Cal Hi, said. "When I was able to cross the middle, I was confident. My 80-yard touchdown changed the game and we were all hyped up."
After being shut down, Serra finally got on the scoreboard and tied the game at six when Greene scored on a 15-yard run with 2:40 remaining in regulation. Maama's point after touchdown attempt, however, failed leaving the Cavaliers tied.
"We're having a tough schedule," Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said. "It's one after the other. We didn't play very good football but they (Notre Dame) were amazing."
Greene completed 16 of 31 passes for 273 yards and one TD and he ran for 21 yards and another score.
For Serra, it was the first time in nine attempts that it won at home against Notre Dame. Among its other eight losses to the Knights, was 35-13 from two years ago.
Kraemer completed 15 of 20 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown but was sacked eight times. Olauwon Tucker and Corey Adolphus each recorded two sacks.
Next among the Cavaliers' rigid preseason will be at home against CIF-Los Angeles City power Dorsey on Friday at 7 p.m. That will preceded the following Friday when Serra visits defending two-time City Division I champion Narbonne on Sept. 27.
Narbonne gets routed by Alemany: After back-to-back CIF-L.A. City Division I crowns, Narbonne High's football team began the season ranked No. 1 in the City Section, despite a mostly younger and lesser experienced squad.
The Gauchos, though, are being somewhat plagued with injuries, including losing Long Beach Poly transfer quarterback Eban Jackson in their dramatic 27-23 victory at defending CIF-Southern Section Northern Division champion Palos Verdes on August 29.
At Alemany High in Mission Hills last Friday, Narbonne met its match as the Indians pulled away for a 42-14 intersectional non-league victory.
Running back Johnnell Jackson had a fine game rushing for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and was tied at 14 but Alemany came back with the game's final 28 points. Jackson had only 44 yards rushing in the second half. Jackson scored on runs of six and 15 yards.
Keying the Indians was Iklani Langi who had a 92-yard interception return for a TD and an 8-yard scoring catch in the third quarter. He also scored on runs of two and six yards.
Next for the Gauchos will be at Lakewood Friday at 7 p.m. Last year, Narbonne rolled over the Lancers, 61-6, enroute to their 14-1 record, an L.A. City Division I title and a spot in the Southern California Regional Bowl Championship where it lost to Corona Centennial, 41-34, at Cerritos College.
West crushes Torrance: In a Torrance high school non-league rivalry last Thursday at Torrance's Zamparini Field, a more seasoned and experienced West Torrance High football squad proved too much for the Tartars in a 46-7 blowout.
The Warriors, who are ranked third in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division after being division finalists last season, wre sparked by the passing combination of quarterback Zach Heeger and wide receiver Craig Knaus. Using fade routes, the two connected from 25 yards to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Brett Ljiyi and a 50-yard scoring pass that gave West a 15-0 with 3:01 to go in the first quarter.
West (2-0) already built a 22-0 lead just before the end of the first period when Heeger hit Kurtis Guelff for a 35-yard score.
Heeger added an 8-yard TD pass to Dane Silverlake, who returned to the Warrior lineup after being forced to miss their season opener at Culver City due to an ejection in last year's West CIF final against Bay League foe Palos Verdes (P.V. won, 35-14.).
Torrance, which fell to 0-2, scored its only touchdown in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Sean Luna, who recovered a fumble a play earlier.
Defensively, the Warriors held the Tartars' Double Wing T offense to just 14 yards rushing.
This Friday could be a showdown between two Southern Section ranked squads as West hosts El Segundo (2-0 and ranked fifth in the Northwest Division) Friday at 7 p.m.
The Eagles, behind premiere junior quarterback Lars Nootbar, running back Henry Doby and wide receiver Jamie Stewart, are coming off a 46-19 home non-league victory over Cantwell-Sacred Heart from Montebello last Friday.
The Tartars host an improved Peninsula High team from Rolling Hills Estates at the same time. The Panthers are 1-1 after falling at home to Culver City, 41-27. Under first year but already very successful head coach Mike Christiansen, Peninsula already owns an impressive 51-0 rout of North Torrance on Sept. 6 at Peninsula.
Last Week's Results:
Thursday, Sept. 12: Newport Harbor 34, Palos Verdes 33; West Torrance 46, Torrance 7; North Torrance 61, Leuzinger 0; Rosemead 41, South Torrance 33.
Friday, Sept. 13: Serra 20, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 13 (2 OT's); Alemany 42, Narbonne 14; Mira Costa 36, Downey 15; Redondo 35, Antelope Valley 14; San Pedro 17, University 6; Mater Dei 33, Carson 0; Culver City 41, Peninsula 27; El Segundo 46, Cantwell-Sacred Heart 19; Lawndale 42, Morningside 6; Banning 36, Hamilton 24; Jefferson 44, Gardena 34; St. Bernard 32, Animo South L.A. 7; Westchester 40, Fremont 0; Chadwick 35, Malibu 0; Stockdale 55, Inglewood 12; Hawthorne 69, Blair 0; Bishop Montgomery def. Bellermine-Jefferson by forfeit. Eight-Man: Pacific Lutheran 76, Annenberg 26; Lighthouse Christian 41, Rolling Hills Prep 17.
Saturday, Sept. 14: Mary Star 24, St. Monica 21.
This Week's Schedule:
Thursday, Sept. 19: Banning vs. Fountain Valley at Huntington Beach High, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 20: El Toro at Palos Verdes, 3 p.m.; El Segundo at West Torrance, 7 p.m.; Dorsey at Serra, 7 p.m.; Narbonne at Lakewood, 7 p.m.; Redondo at Culver City, 7 p.m.; Peninsula at Torrance, 7 p.m.; South Torrance at Mira Costa, 7 p.m.; Bishop Montgomery at North Torrance, 7 p.m.; Santa Margarita at Carson, 7 p.m.; Lawndale at Leuzinger, 7 p.m.; Glenn at Gardena, 7 p.m.; Verbum Dei at Hawthorne, 7 p.m.; St. Anthony vs. Mary Star at Daniels Field, 7 p.m.; Morningside at Compton, 7 p.m.; Cathedral at Westchester, 7 p.m.; Inglewood vs. Burbank at John Burroughs High, 7 p.m.; Rolling Hills Prep at Westmark, 3 p.m. (Eight-man).
Saturday, Sept. 21: Bell-Jeff at Chadwick, 3 p.m.; Hope Centre vs. Pacific Lutheran at Daniels Field, 2 p.m.
Snyder's Top 10: 1. Serra (3-0), 2. West Torrance (2-0), 3. Narbonne (2-1), 4. San Pedro (3-0), 5. Palos Verdes (2-1), 6. Carson (0-2), 7. Redondo (2-1), 8. Mira Costa (1-1), 9. El Segundo (2-0), 10. Culver City (1-1).