The theme of the Monroe High homecoming game Friday night was "Back to the Future."
It could have been called "Back to the Basics" after Monroe beat Birmingham, 23-13.
Last week, Monroe couldn't execute the fundamentals of offense and was blown out by Canoga Park, 28-0.
Friday, the Vikings played good, sensible offense and it paid off as they improved their overall record to 4-1-1 and their record in the Sunset League to 1-1.
"We just didn't execute as well against Canoga Park," said Monroe co-Coach Howard Reisbord. "This week, I think our offense played much better. We seemed to be able to control the ball a lot better than we did last week.
"Canoga Park beat us on four big plays. Birmingham had to drive down the field, they had to grind it out. I'm not taking anything away from Canoga Park. They're a great ball club. But we played a lot better tonight."
The Vikings also did some damage on defense. Before Friday's game, Birmingham had the second-best offense for a City team in the Valley. But an improved Monroe defense held the Braves to only 308 yards total offense.
"Our defense is getting better," Reisbord said. "But I think both the offense and defense played very well. I can say I'm really pleased with both squads."
What he wasn't pleased with was the way quarterback Barry Thomas was acting in the final quarter. Thomas, the quarterback until injured starter Robert Harding returns Monday, got into a scuffle with a Birmingham player and then with one of his own teammates, Guy Dennuccio.
Said Reisbord: "He (Thomas) was just trying to break it up. We want our players to make sure their teammates don't get a personal foul penalty."
After handing the Braves their first league loss, Monroe is in a good position to capture its second lesgue title.
Monroe had a 16-7 halftime lead and it stayed that way until the middle of the fourth quarter.
On a halfback option, Sean Roberts hit Thomas from 23 yards out to put Monroe up, 23-7. Birmingham scored in the second half when Mike Flores ran from the one for his ninth touchdown of the season.
In the first half, Monroe marched 65 yards on seven plays and set up at the Birmingham nine. Placekicker Raymond Lopez came in on the eighth play of the drive and split the uprights to put the Vikings up, 3-0.
Following the Lopez field goal, it looked as if Monroe would get the ball back after four quick Birmingham plays. Kevin Zietz tossed three straight incomplete passes, the Braves were forced to punt. A punt by Zietz hit Monroe's Eddie Bernacui in the back of the legs and the Braves recovered on the Vikings' 23.
Seven plays later, Mike Flores ran for his eighth touchdown of the season and Birmingham led, 7-3.
After the ensuing kickoff, Thomas fumbled the first snap and the Braves came up with the ball on the Monroe 25. A dead ball foul sent the Braves back to the 39, where they could move the ball only four yards. Monroe took over at the 35 and six plays later, Thomas ran the ball in from the nine and Monroe for a 10-7 lead.
Birmingham was penalized 115 yards in the first half. Linebacker David Lopez of Birmingham was ejected after drawing two personal fouls on the same play. Penalties killed three firt-half drives for the Braves.