Anyone who showed up at the end of Friday night's football game between Taft High and Birmingham would have had little difficulty figuring out who won. The first hint was the Birmingham school band playing taps instead of the fight song. The second was given by the Birmingham players themselves. They were the ones on the sidelines, pleading for the humiliation to end.
"Please don't run another play," one player said. "Please don't hurt us anymore."
Too late. The damage was already done. Taft had already bombed Birmingham, 44-8, in what was supposed to be a hard-fought, pivotal Sunset League game.
The win improved Taft to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in league. It also gives the Toreadors an inside track for a postseason playoff berth.
Birmingham, however, is now going to have to scramble to make it to the playoffs. The loss, which followed the Braves' heartbreaking 20-19 loss last week to Chatsworth, dropped their record to 4-3 and 1-2.
Ahh, that Chatsworth loss. Members of the Birmingham camp believe that a little of the pain from that one still lingers.
"It doesn't seem as if anyone has recovered from it," said quarterback Kevin Zietz, who completed only 4 of 9 passes for 33 yards with 2 interceptions.
Zietz wasn't the only ineffective Brave. Taft limited Birmingham to only 136 total yards and controlled the contest from play one.
Birmingham took the opening kickoff and fumbled on its first play. Taft running back Donald Dozier then took a pitch on the next play and ran 18 yards for a touchdown.
Dozier gained 69 yards in 12 carries to pace a Taft running game that racked up 242 yards.
By halftime, the Toreadors had built a 30-8 lead and the rest of the game had about as much excitement and suspense as a Bartles and James commercial.
In the final two quarters, the only ones that seemed to be enjoying themselves were the Toreadors.
"They were just kicking our butts," Birmingham Coach Alan Epstein said.
"I think we played a little more physical than they did," Taft Coach Tom Stevenson said. "Our defense really set the tone. To hold Birmingham to only eight points is really phenomenal."