Serra High's defending California State Division II champion football team started off very well, then had to hang on for a 28-22 season opening non-league victory over Desert Ridge High from Mesa, Arizona in the Brothers in Arms Classic last Saturday at Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego.
The Cavaliers, who are currently ranked 11th in the United States by Maxpreps and 15th by Student Sports, scored two touchdowns apiece in the first and second quarters for a 28-7 halftime lead, then a rash of mistakes got the Jaguars, rated fourth in Arizona, back into the game.
After scoring 15 second half points, Desert Ridge was driving deep into Serra territory in an attempt to take a lead before Rasheem Green recorded two sacks on its quarterback as the Cavaliers held on to win their season opener.
Serra had a fine performance from returning third year quarterback Jalen Greene who completed seven of 10 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those went to all-American wide receiver Adoree Jackson from 41 and 31 yards. Jackson caught four passes for 119 yards.
Greene's other scoring passes went to Gregory Webb from four yards and UCLA-bound Jordan Lasley of 33 yards.
Lasley caught two passes for 58 yards.
A pair of bad punt snaps aided Desert Ridge's rally. An 8-yard run by Danny Siamau got the Jaguars to within six points that was set up by a Cavalier fumble.
Jackson, one of the most highly recruited prep gridders in the United States, also rushed for 96 yards on six carrier.
Serra returns 17 starters, most who are being highly recruited by Major College programs. Hurting the Cavaliers, though, is the loss of key junior running back Malik Roberson, who tore is ACL after long jumping at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Track and Field Championships on May 25 at Cerritos College.
Greene is also a preseason all-American.
The Cavaliers will need a lot of improvement and cut down on their mistakes as they travel to Oceanside High in North San Diego County for a 8 p.m. non-league contest Friday. Oceanside is the top ranked team in the CIF-San Diego Section.
Redondo rolls over North: Redondo Union High School's football team started the season with good experience at quarterback and several other skilled positions but concerned with a large number of first year starting player.
What Redondo head coach Matt Ballard saw impressed him. Using a pistol offense, the Sea Hawks started out having to make adjustments with several critical mistakes, including a fumbled snap that gave North Torrance an early 6-0 lead but, from there, the Sea Hawks dominated the rest of the contest and routed the Saxons, 49-12, in their season opener last Friday at Redondo.
The Sea Hawks were sparked by two experienced seniors in running back Jamal Perkins who rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns in 16 carries and quarterback Harrison Faecher who completed nine of 16 passes for 155 yards and two TD's. Joe Ramos caught both of Faecher's scoring passes from 40 and one yards.
Redondo had 437 total yards on offense, 282 of those rushing.
Sophomore Cedric Muzik had two sacks on Saxon sophomore quarterback Mique Juarez and blocked a punt and returned the ball 15 yards for a touchdown that gave the Sea Hawks a 35-12 third quarter advantage.
"We started very rough," Ballard said. "After that, we responded to it. Last year, we had a real good game with them. (Redondo won that game at North, 42-35.) We were fast pace, although we sputtered at times."
For North, Juarez, who was an all-Pioneer League wide receiver as a freshman for the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division finalist Saxons last season then switched to quaterback with the graduation of last year's starter Jorge Hernandez, completed 10 of 18 passes for 136 yards and one TD.
His scoring pass was of 37 yards to Matt Gonzales that cut Redondo's lead to 21-12 late in the second period.
"He'll improve as the year goes on," North head coach Todd Croce said of Juarez. "We just have to keep moving on."
North played without returning first team all-Pioneer League defensive end T.J. Samaglio but hopes to play in Friday's game at Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula, which begins at 3 p.m.
With several top players back, Redondo hopes to be a very strong contender for the mostly balanced Bay League, where five of six teams are expected to be in a close battle for the title and CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoff spots.
Defending league and Northern Division champion Palos Verdes is currently ranked third in the division and division runner-up West Torrance is sixth. Mira Costa, which lost its season opener at highly regarded Notre Dame (sixth in the Southern Section PAC Five Division), 42-6, last Friday in Sherman Oaks, will be also there and even Peninsula, under new but a very successful head coach Mike Christiansen, has potential. Christiansen, earlier, had very good records at South Torrance, Lakewood, Carson and Los Angeles Loyola Highs.
The Sea Hawks should be highly tested as they host defending two-time Ocean League champion Santa Monica, ranked third in the Southern Section Western Division, Friday at 7 p.m.
Prayer is answered for Narbonne: It took a so-called "Hail Mary" pass on the game's last play to enable defending two-time CIF-L.A. City champion Harbor City Narbonne High's football team to top host and last season's CIF-Southern Section Northern Division champion Palos Verdes, 27-23, last Thursday.
With just 4.4 seconds left in the game and only about 26 seconds after the Sea Kings scored the go-ahead touchdown, Ramon Ale tossed a 29-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Dallas Lopez as the Gauchos were able to pull out the contest.
Earlier in the contest, the Gauchos lost starting quarterback Eban Jackson, an all-CIF Southern Section PAC Five transfer from champion Long Beach Poly, to a broken wrist and preseasn all-American running back Johnell Jackson to a sprained knee.
Ale completed 20 of 28 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Lopez had six catches for 122 yards and three TD's.
For P.V., quarterback Daniel Di Rocco completed 13 of 17 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown and Lucas Cooper had a 43-yard fumble recovery for a score.
Narbonne hosts Gahr High from Cerritos Friday at 7 p.m.
The Sea Kings are at Moorpark High at the same time.
Last Week's Results:
Thursday, Aug. 29: Narbonne 27, Palos Verdes 23; South East 27, Lawndale 12; St. Bernard 52, Hawkins 7; South Gate 41, Westchester 0.
Friday, Aug. 30: Redondo 49, North Torrance 12; San Pedro 21, Morro Bay 0; Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 42, Mira Costa 6; Bishop Montgomery 48, Desert Mirage 6; West Ranch 56, Hawthorne 0; Noli Indian 38, Pacific Lutheran 26 (Eight-man).
Saturday, Aug. 31: Serra 28, Mesa (Ariz.) Desert Ridge 22; Chadwick 26, Santa Clarita Christian 14.
This Week's Schedule:
Friday, Sept. 6: Eleven-man: Serra at Oceanside, 8 p.m.; North Torrance at Peninsula, 3 p.m.; Torrance at Banning, 7 p.m.; Palos Verdes at Moorpark, 7 p.m.; Gahr at Narbonne, 7 p.m.; Santa Monica at Redondo, 7 p.m.; West Torrance at Culver City, 7 p.m.; El Segundo at Lynwood, 7 p.m.; Locke at San Pedro, 7 p.m.; Hawthorne at Lawndale, 7 p.m.; Contreras at Bishop Montgomery, 7 p.m.; Gardena at Taft, 7 p.m.; St. Bernard at Cathedral, 7 p.m.; Eastside at Leuzinger, 7 p.m.; Mary Star at Aquinas, 7 p.m.; Morningside at Animo South L.A., 7 p.m.; Carpinteria at South Torrance, 7:30 p.m.
Eight-man: Sylmar Concordia at Rolling Hills Prep, 3 p.m.; Pacific Lutheran at Faith Baptist Academy, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 7: Fresno Edison at Carson, 7 p.m.; Chadwick at Southlands Christian, 7 p.m.; Bretheren Christian at Animo Leadership, TBA.
Snyder's League Picks:
Marine League: 1 Narbonne---A lot of new players with a few key top returners but still extremely talented; 2. Carson---With a lot of talent back and some key transfers, look for the always powerful Colts to be a big threat for defending two-time L.A. City champion Narbonne and the City championship and a possible spot in the California State Bowl Series, themselves. 3. San Pedro---The Pirates have a lot of good talent back and will also be a big threat in the Marine League and the L.A. City Section. 4. Gardena---The Panthers enjoyed their best season in a several years in 2012. Gardena will be mostly young and inexperienced but have a few potential talented players; 5. Banning---Under first year head coach John Aponte, the Pilots are seeking to return to their glory days and have some potential to surprise some top teams; 6. Washington---The Generals have been the doormat in the always rugged Marine League but may have a shot at a league victory or two this year.
Western League: 1. Venice, 2. Palisades, 3. Fairfax, 4. University, 5. Westchester, 6. Los Angeles.
Mission League: 1. Serra---The Cavaliers are loaded but must stay healthy and not get to overconfident like they did when they nearly blew a 28-7 lead in their 28-22 season opening win over Desert Ridge from Mesa, Arizona last Saturday at Cathedral High in San Diego; 2. Chaminade---The Eagles are always dangerous and should continue to be a big threat to Serra; 3. Cathedral---The Phantoms return several key players and should be in the thick of the Mission race. 4. Harvard-Westlake---The Wolverines are back on an upswing and should be more competitive in Mission play; 5. St. Francis, 6. St. Paul.
Bay League: 1. Palos Verdes---Under successful head coach Guy Gardner, the defending CIF-Southern Section Northern Division champion Sea Kings should continue to be the favorites, although there are four other league opponents who all have a shot of knocking them off; 2. West Torrance---The Warriors only took fourth in the highly competitive Bay but made the Northern Division playoffs at-large spot worth it by advancing to the finals before falling to league foe P.V. The Warriors lost a few key players but have very good depth and should continue to be a force in the Bay and in CIF; 3. Mira Costa---The Mustangs are always a league and South Bay power and they have the talent to return to the top of the Bay, despite a dismal 42-6 loss to a highly regarded Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High team last Friday; 4. Redondo---The Sea Hawks are coming off a very impressive 49-12 home win over last season's Northwest Division runner-up North Torrance last Friday, which shows they will be a big threat in the Bay. Redondo hopes to stay healthy and get more consistent; 5. Peninsula---The Panthers have not enjoyed much success over the past few seasons but they have a successful head coach in Mike Christiansen and some key returning starters that could make them a surprise team in the Bay; 6. Leuzinger---The Olympians are just too inexperienced to compete in league, although they have a few good athletes.
Ocean League: 1. Santa Monica---The Vikings continue to very physical and talented with even a few Major Division I college prospects on their team; 2. Inglewood---Under first year head coach Tony Reid, the Sentinels have enough talent to attempt to unseed two-time defending Ocean champion Santa Monica and possibly even surprise teams like nationally-ranked Serra (11th by Maxpreps Xcellent 25) for an attempt to win the CIF-Southern Section Western Division crown; 3. Culver City---The Centaurs are always very good in football and should continue to be top contenders for the Ocean crown, despite lack of experience and depth that they had in the past; 4. Beverly Hills---Not long ago, the Normans had a very successful program but have been down the past few seasons. Under first year head coach Charlie Stansbury, Beverly Hills still appears to have trouble competing with the likes of league powers Santa Monica, Inglewood and Culver City, but hope to have a respectful season; 5. Hawthorne---Under first year head coach Donald Paysinger, who headed Beverly Hills the past four seasons, the Cougars are starting to get on an upswing with 78 total players in their program compared to 30 from last year but will be about a year or two away from returning to their glory days they had up to several years ago. 6. Morningside---Under first-year head coach Derwin Henderson, who had a CIF-L.A. City Division II championship at South East High in South Gate two years ago, he is inspired to bring the Monarchs up to success, especially when they move to the highly competitive Bay League next year. With a lot of underclassmen, the Monarchs are a year away from really picking things up.
Pioneer League: 1. El Segundo---Last year, the Eagles surprised people with a second place finish in league and the quarterfinals in the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division. With the return of several very talented players, including junior quarterback Lars Nootbar, the Eagles appear to be ready to be on top of the Pioneer and a very good playoff run; 2. North Torrance---The Saxons lost that outstanding aerial attack of quarterback Jorge Hernandez and receivers Mike Jurado and Devante Jenkins but have a few very good players back. North, though, will be mostly young and may need a year to get back into top contention; 3. South Torrance---The Spartans should continue to be in contention for the Pioneer title but must stay healthy; 4. Compton Centennial---The Apaches have a lot of good athletes and talent and should be a strong contender in the very balanced Pioneer. Centennial needs to get more consistent, though; 5. Torrance---The Tartars return 12 starters and their Double Wing T offense is always dangerous. They will definitely be a threat in league and, possibly, in the playoffs; 6. Lawndale---The Cardinals managed to stay with a very good South East High team for much of the game before falling, 27-12. Lawndale has good speed but will lack size and experience to compete with other Pioneer squads.
Del Rey League: 1. Bishop Montgomery---The Knights started the season with an impressive 48-6 rout of Desert Mirage from Thermal last Friday and will be top contenders for the Del Rey League title, as they were the past couple of seasons; 2. La Salle---The Lancers have good talent and will be up there for the Del Rey crown; 3. St. Bernard---After a year off from varsity football last year, the Vikings started this season with a 52-7 rout of first year CIF-L.A. City Section team Hawkins last Friday. St. Bernard went 7-0 in the junior varsity and have the potential to go to the top of Del Rey action; 4. Cantwell-Sacred Heart; 5. Mary Star; 6. Bosco Tech; 7. Verbum Dei.