PREP FOOTBALL: 14 area teams advance to playoff semifinals

November 22, 2017

Several area high school football teams have reached the semifinal rounds of the Los Angeles City Section and Southern Section playoffs. All games are scheduled at 7 p.m. Nov. 24 unless otherwise noted.

Los Angeles City Section

In the open division, Carson (8-3) faces Crenshaw (9-2). Historically speaking, Crenshaw, coached by Robert Garrett, and Carson, coached by Arnold Ale, are familiar with each other. Their teams often met during the regular season in the tough Southern Pacific Conference while Ale was an All-American linebacker at Carson and Garrett was starting a successful legacy as Crenshaw’s head coach.

Carson’s Denaylan Fuimaono, Sultan Moala, Jaja Bellinger, Dejonte Thomas, Kori Moe and Demoni Sanchez all made major contributions in the Colts’ 31-7 quarterfinal win over Venice Nov. 17.

Crenshaw’s Isaiah Johnson leads an extremely battle-tested and talented unit capable of making big plays on both sides of the ball. The Cougars had little trouble with Banning last week.

In the other semifinal, Fairfax (8-3) faces Narbonne (9-2).

Narbonne, coached by Manuel Douglas, has shown that it is ready to defend its City Section title after winning the Division I championship last year.

Narbonne’s Jalen Chatman and Jermar Jefferson helped the Gauchos open up an early close game to defeat San Pedro last week.

Before Narbonne can look ahead to the finals, something that Douglas will likely not approve of, it will have to travel to and contend with Fairfax, led by head coach Shane Cox. Fairfax has earned its spot in the Open Division by old-fashioned hard work, similar to Narbonne’s rise from doormat years ago to the powerhouse it is today under Douglas.

Fairfax is a deep and talented unit led by several players, including Scott Harris, Andrew Cox and Jordan Reed.

In Division I, Dorsey (6-6) faces South Gate (9-3). Dorsey, coached by Charles Mincy, is a game away from returning to the Division I finals, where the Dons, despite a brutal non-league schedule, survived enough to turn their season around.

South Gate, coached by Jose Casagran, is standing in Dorsey’s way. After a slow start, the Rams have picked up the pace as well. Typically, South Gate teams have played well at home in the playoffs.

In the other semifinal, Garfield (7-5) faces San Fernando (10-2), two powerful teams that can’t wait to get on the field. Garfield, coached by Lorenzo Hernandez, will meet perhaps the hottest team in the entire City Section, San Fernando, which is coached by Robert Garcia. A large crowd is expected for this one.

In Division II, Granada Hills (5-7) visits Huntington Park (9-3) for the right to meet the winner of the Cleveland (7-5) – Eagle Rock (11-1) in the other semifinal match.

In the Division III semifinals, Marshall (9-3) will visit Locke (10-2) to determine which team will advance to the finals against either Monroe (5-7) or Verdugo Hills (7-5).

In the City Section Eight-Man championship game, Animo Jackie Robinson defeated Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, 36-20, for the title Nov. 18.

Southern Section

In Division 1, Corona Centennial (10-1) faces St. John Bosco (10-2) at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 24 at Cerritos College. Corona Centennial is ranked fifth nationally by MaxPreps. St. John Bosci is seventh in the nation.

St. John Bosco, coached by Jason Negro, is headed to its sixth consecutive Southern Section Division I semifinal and its second straight year hosting Corona Centennial.

Sophomore quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and his teammates are putting up big numbers on the stat sheet and the scoreboard in the playoffs so far, but the Braves are struggling with penalties and mistakes that Negro would like to eliminate. Corona Centennial, coached by Matt Logan, is capable of scoring quickly and often, supported by a solid defense.

Other Southern Section games include:

• Moorpark (10-2) at Paramount (11-1). Paramount, coached by Matt Howard, may have its hands full in this Division V semifinal, facing a Moorpark unit that handed Lawndale its first loss of the season in a close game last week. Paramount’s Cedric Hood has 1,300 yards passing and 18 touchdowns, but Moorpark’s defense is one of the region’s stingiest.

• Downey (10-2) at Capistrano Valley (12-0), 7:30 p.m. Downey, coached by Jack Williams, has had a successful season, but the road gets tougher as it enters the Division IV semifinals. Downey’s Kijjon Foots, a junior, has thrown for 2,700 yards and 23 touchdowns so far this season. Baraq Ross has 1,800 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns. Foots also has 14 rushing touchdowns. Christopher Atkins is a sure-handed receiver for Downey, but Capistrano Valley has an explosive offense led by Nathan Manning and a swarming defense.

• Culver City (11-1) at Covina (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Culver City’s Division 11 storybook season continues at least for another week, but the Centaurs are on the road again, this time against a Covina unit that has felt comfortable at home. Covina’s first two playoff games resulted in home victories and it is hungry for another one.


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