Sooner or later all sports dynasties come to an end. But was anybody really prepared for Banning's defeat in the first round of the L.A. City 4-A football playoffs Friday night?
Banning's 17-14 loss to Reseda Cleveland at Harbor College brought an end to several streaks that the Pilots had built over the past decade.
It marked the first time since 1974 that Banning, winner of eight of the last 11 City titles, failed to get past the first round of the playoffs.
It is believed to be Banning's first loss to a San Fernando Valley high school since 1976.
For the first time in five years, Banning and Carson will not meet for the City 4-A championship. It is only the second time in the last 10 years that the rivals will not meet in the playoffs.
As could be expected, Cleveland Coach Steve Landress was proud of what his team had accomplished.
"This is the greatest victory Cleveland has ever had in football," he said. "It's nice to put the lights out of the Pilots."
Cleveland (5-5), which had squandered a 21-0 lead in a 28-27 loss to Banning earlier this season, turned the tables on the Pilots (6-4) this time.
The Cavaliers pulled out the victory with 48 seconds left on a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jamie Grossman to tight end Chaka Milby.
Cleveland was without 14 players who were academically ineligible, including three two-way starters, while Banning was missing three starters because of grades.
What caused the decline and fall of Banning this season? Some people will blame first-year coach John Hazelton, but that seems unfair. The Pilots, with only two returning starters, fielded an inexperienced team.
A true measure of Banning's strength should come next season when it returns several promising underclassmen, including junior tailback Chris Griffieth, who was ineligible for Friday's game, sophomore quarterback John Maae and junior offensive tackle Bob Whitfield, a 6-foot-7, 265-pounder.
While several of Banning's streaks ended, Carson took a step closer to its second consecutive City 4-A title with a routine 39-12 victory over winless El Camino Real at Gardena High. It was the 200th win for the 25-year-old school.
The Colts improved to 10-0 and have now outscored their opponents, 392-53, heading into the semifinals Friday against San Fernando (7-1-1). The game will probably be played at Gardena.
Carson had the game well in hand by half time, opening a 31-0 lead behind two touchdown passes from quarterback George Malauulu. The ambidextrous senior added another scoring toss in the fourth quarter to give him 17 TD throws on the season.
Malauulu will be matched against another talented quarterback in the semifinals. San Fernando's Joe Mauldin has passed for 1,560 yards and 14 TDs. He passed for 121 yards and rushed for 63 yards and one TD in San Fernando's 16-12 win over Dorsey on Friday night.
The only blemishes on San Fernando's record are a loss to Valley League champion Granada Hills and a tie with El Camino Real. Granada Hills (7-3) will play host to Cleveland in the other semifinal on Friday.
Carson, ranked No. 3 in the nation by USA Today, is 21-1 over the last two seasons.
Burbank Burroughs Coach Butch McElwee did a good job of summing up El Segundo's football season Friday night, just minutes after his Indians had rallied for a 26-16 win in the CIF Northwestern Conference semifinals.
"Those guys are good," he said, pointing to El Segundo's players, who dejectedly walked off a rain-soaked field. "They deserve a lot of credit. For a school of 600 (students), they have quite a team."
El Segundo was making its first appearance in the semifinals, playing football in December for the first time in the school's 60-year history. As it turned out, the Eagles were one quarter away from making it to the finals.
They built a 16-7 lead in the third quarter on a 39-yard field goal by Eric Evans and a 70-yard touchdown on a swing pass from quarterback Joe Montanez to Evans, a senior tailback.
But El Segundo, which has several two-way players, appeared to tire on defense in the fourth quarter, as Burroughs scored touchdowns on all three of its possessions in the period.
The Eagles ended the season with a 9-4 record and the title of "Surprise Team of the Year." They were picked to finish last in the Pioneer League.
"I'm very proud of what the kids have done here this year," El Segundo Coach Steve Newell said. "They have a great deal of heart."