Carson and Banning high schools may be headed for another City football title showdown, and West Torrance, Hawthorne and Leuzinger all have shots at CIF conference title games as football playoffs head to semifinals Friday.
In City 4-A semis, Carson plays Dorsey at Gardena High and Banning is at San Fernando. In a 3-A game Locke plays Fairfax, while Westchester plays at Bell in a 2-A match-up.
In CIF semis, West Torrance is host to Hart in the Coastal Conference, Hawthorne plays at Antelope Valley in the Northwestern Conference and Leuzinger is home against St. Genevieve in the Desert-Mountain Conference.
Top-ranked Carson (9-1) has been playing well the second half of the season and easily handled Dorsey, 34-18, in the final league game. Quarterback Marc Walters has passed for more than 1,200 yards, and juniors Alvin Goree and Calvin Holmes lead a speedy backfield. All-league running back Tommy Jackson is Dorsey's main weapon. Dorsey's 8-2 record is deceptive because the Dons were handled easily by Carson and Banning.
Depending on which Banning shows up, this could be the City's top game Friday. If it's the sluggish team that barely beat Kennedy two weeks ago, the Pilots (7-3) could be in trouble against San Fernando (8-2), which has won seven straight after losing to Carson. After that game, San Fernando made a key personnel move, shifting running back David Richards to full-time wide receiver.
Richards has become a consistent deep threat for quarterback Dwayne Calloway, and running back Lance Harper has emerged. He scored six touchdowns in the last two league games. The Tiger defense has allowed only 36 points in the last six games. Banning remains tough on defense but has been inconsistent on offense. When junior quarterback Ed Kapu has a good game, the Pilots usually win.
Defending 3-A champion Locke (6-4) plays Fairfax (10-0) in a 3-A semifinal at Belmont High School. Fairfax beat Locke earlier, 27-13, the closest anyone has come to the Lions. Two of the City's better running quarterbacks match up in Locke's Leon Otis and Fairfax's Rodney Dorsett. They also have good running backs--Locke sophomore Darren Hagin and Fairfax's Michael Hale.
Westchester (9-1) gets a shot at revenge against Bell (10-0), which knocked the Comets out of the playoffs last year. The high-scoring Comets feature big play receiver David Brantley and running back Derrick Franklin. Bell has Eastern League player of the year in quarterback Eliad Pacheco , who has thrown for more than 1,200 yards. The key player may be kicker Waldir Guerra, who has eight field goals, four of them from 42 yards or longer. If comparisons count, Bell beat University, 38-28, while Westchester struggled for a 11-0 win.
West Torrance (8-2-2) draws a hot team in Hart (8-3-1), which lost its first three games and has won its last eight. Hart features the passing of the San Fernando Valley's best quarterback, junior Jim Bonds, who has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Fullback Brian Baie is nearly unstoppable inside the five with 15 TDs. Linebacker John Libby leads a tough defense. West has been winning on the running of Kevin Maher and Kaiser Noa and the kicking of Dominick Cefalone.
Hawthorne (11-0-1) plays upset-minded Antelope Valley (8-4), which dumped undefeated Verbum Dei last week on the running of Peter Jensen and Eric Mortensen and Eric Torchia's three fumble recoveries. The unbeaten Cougars have had too much speed and defense for opponents so far in the playoffs. For what it's worth, Hawthorne beat Palmdale last week, 15-8. Palmdale shut out Antelope Valley earlier this year.
Desert-Mountain Conference favorite Santa Clara fell last week, so second seed St. Genevieve (10-2) comes to Leuzinger (10-1-1) as the new favorite. The game matches two good quarterbacks in St. Genevieve's Andy Sherman, who passed for 270 yards and three touchdowns last week against Elsinore, and Leuzinger's Mike Reddington, who passed for two touchdowns and ran for another against Agoura.