Sports fans prepped for action


first_imgTake me out to a prep game. It’s that time of the sports year again, and thank goodness. On the heels of college football’s Championship Week, here comes high school football’s version, a tonic for a sports fan’s soul. Every now and then, you grow weary of stories about Bowl Championship Series contrivances and New Year’s Day bowls that aren’t on New Year’s Day and players leaving college early to turn pro. You get tired of steroid scandals and player strikes and .284-hitting shortstops with $39 million contracts and Terrell Owens. You get sick of touchdown dances and shooting guards who miss 20 shots a game and prizefighters who never fight and race horses who never race. And what better to take the mind off the ills of big-time college and pro sports than high school championship games Friday and Saturday featuring 10 – count ’em, 10 – local teams? Not that the major leagues are more sordid than any other walk of life. They’re just so wrapped up in business issues that the good gets obscured. Give me a break. I mean, literally, give me a break from all that. I confess a little envy for the writers of the high-school sports page, where it’s sweet and simple by comparison to Page 1. A controversy like the recent one in which three football players at Hart High of Newhall were kicked off the team for their roles in a hazing incident, as terrible as it was, seems relatively quaint. Look, I don’t get out to a lot of prep football games. They’re usually on Fridays, which is when the Dodgers tend to announce their premature firings. But I’ll be at one this week. And whichever one it is, I can’t go wrong. Notre Dame (13-0 this season) vs. Dominguez, 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Home Depot Center in Carson: Without a flashy player, Notre Dame is looking for its 36th consecutive victory, trying to become only the third team to win four championships in a row, and hoping to finish the season as the top-ranked team in California. Taft (13-0) vs. Crenshaw, 8 p.m. Friday at the Coliseum: Taft, with quarterback Exavier Johnson coming off a six-touchdown-passes performance, plays in its seventh final in 14 years and tries to deliver its second championship in a match between two of the local prep scene’s highest-profile programs. Hart (11-2) vs. Canyon (12-1) of Canyon Country for the Southern Section Div. II title, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Home Depot Center: If familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it should make for a good game between Foothill League rivals and famed coaches Mike Herrington (Hart) and Harry Welch (Canyon). Hart had to upset Mission Viejo, the nation’s No. 2 team, to get to the final. Canyon is in its first final since 1988, and won a close one against Hart earlier this season. Moorpark (10-3) vs. St. Bonaventure for the Southern Section Div. IV title, 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ventura: Moorpark makes its second appearance ever in a final and faces a steep challenge in defending champion St. Bonaventure, the Ventura school that might be playing better than anybody these days. Crespi (10-3) of Encino vs. Lompoc for the Southern Section Div. X title, 7:30 p.m. Friday in Lompoc: OK, it’s a long way to go for a football game, but maybe we can get Crespi running back Josh Morgan to carry us. Morgan rushed for 347 yards in Crespi’s semifinal game, one yard short of Crespi legend Russell White’s school record. Oaks Christian (12-0) of Westlake Village vs. Grace Brethren (11-2) of Simi Valley for the Southern Section Div. XI title, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Newbury Park: There’s a David-and-Goliath theme here, with Grace Brethren chasing a championship in its first year in this division but facing quarterback Jimmy Clausen and two-time defending champion Oaks Christian. “If we play like we did (in a less-than-impressive semifinal win), it’s a good thing we’re both Christian schools,” Grace Brethren coach Terry Gourley said, “because it’ll be an annihilation of biblical proportions.” Campbell Hall (10-3) of North Hollywood vs. Rio Hondo Prep for the Southern Section Div. XIII title, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Birmingham High of Lake Balboa: Campbell Hall has won titles in baseball and basketball but is seeking its first in football after taking the long route to the final, leading the division early in the season, slumping under the weight of injuries, then coming on again to earn an at-large playoff berth. Eagle Rock (11-2) vs. Marshall for the City Section Invitational division title, 5 p.m. Friday at the Coliseum: On the schedule, it looks like nothing more than a warm-up act for the Taft-Crenshaw game. But Eagle Rock has shown a dramatic flair in its own right, rallying from 20-6 down at halftime in its semifinal victory. That Notre Dame game looks like the one for me. Then again, it could be the Taft game. Or both … It’s a good week to be a sports fan around here. Kevin Modesti’s column appears in the Daily News three days a week. He can be reached at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals There’s Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, No. 1 in the Daily News’ rankings, facing Dominguez for the Southern Section Div. III title. There’s Taft of Woodland Hills vs. Crenshaw for the City Section title. And six other games involve teams from the Daily News circulation area. A check of the record books shows this will be the most football teams from the area to play in championship games in any season. With eight championships in reach, our teams could eclipse the area standard of six, set in 2003 with Hart of Newhall leading the charge. As a sportswriter, I’m so ready for this. I suppose a lot of sports fans are too. See, the way it works in the sports-writing racket, the longer you hang on, the more bad stuff you have to cover. For every great game and heroic athlete a columnist gets to see, there’s a labor squabble, drug inquiry, salary-cap issue, new-stadium demand or ego explosion to sour the mood. last_img

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