Cleveland High football Coach Steve Landress should have seen the writing on the wall. Omens flew around the Cleveland campus all week.
First, the Cavaliers lost $6,000 in video equipment to thieves, then they lost two offensive starters because of academic ineligibility.
The coup de grace came Friday night at Gardena High, when Cleveland lost its City 4-A playoff opener to Carson, 45-7.
"We didn't have the horses to hang with Carson," Landress said afterward. "They're a great team. We couldn't score, and we couldn't keep them from scoring."
After Carson (9-1) broke to a 29-7 halftime lead, both coaches agreed during the intermission to play the second half with a running clock.
"No sense in beating a dead dog," Landress said. "There's no sense in humiliating anyone."
Cleveland's star tailback, Albert Fann, was effectively taken out of the game after the Cavaliers fell behind early and were forced to pass. He finished with 21 yards on seven carries. Fann did account for Cleveland's only touchdown, however, scoring on a 45-yard pass from Jamie Grossman late in the second quarter.
The Cavaliers finished the season 7-3, losing three of their last four games.
The first half was humiliation enough for Cleveland. Carson, routed last week by rival Banning, 37-10, in the Pacific League title showdown, cured the "Banning blues" by racing to a 29-0 second-period lead.
The game was less than four minutes old when Carson running back Calvin Holmes broke loose down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown.
Cleveland's Mike Aranzullo fumbled on the next play from scrimmage, and Carson scored two plays later on Bryon Reeves' 37-yard touchdown pass from William Pope. Aranzullo, who was ruled academically ineligible earlier this week, passed a makeup test Thursday in one of his classes to regain his eligibility.
Carson increased its lead to 22-0 when the speedy Alvin Goree scored on a 90-yard run on the second play of the second period. Holmes scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run several minutes later.