Reseda High School has advanced to its second consecutive City 2-A football championship game, but this year, against Westchester, the Regents are the favorites instead of the underdogs.
In 1986, Reseda finished second in the Pac-8 League to University but beat the Warriors in the championship game, 37-0. This year, Reseda was unbeaten in 10 game sand one of its victories was a 10-0 Pac-8 decision over Westchester. The rematch will be played at East Los Angeles College Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Westchester Coach Larry Wein believes the similarities between the two championship games can be used to his team's advantage.
"Reseda beat us," Wein said. "They're the ones that have to deal with that. They're the ones that can't take us lightly. The psychological edge is to us."
Reseda Coach Joel Schaeffer offered a different perspective: "That game was that game and this game is another."
After the loss, Westchester (9-2) revamped its defensive and offensive lines and has since won seven of eight games.
"We're a different team than the one that played Reseda," Wein said. "After that game, we took a look at ourselves and we made some adjustments. As the season has progressed, we've improved."
Schaeffer agreed. "Westchester, of late, has been playing very strong," he said. "They're a very good football team."
Westchester's strength is its defense, which has allowed an average of 13.3 points a game and has consistently given the offense good field position.
Defensive tackle Kevin Johnson has been the main cog in Westchester's defense. A 6-foot 3-inch, 275-pound senior, Johnson is a strong tackler and surprisingly fast.
"Johnson is a pivotal man on defense because the offense has to concentrate on him," Wein said.
Reseda, the division's top-seeded team, also has a strong defense. The Regents, who have allowed 164.8 yards and 7.6 points a game, are led by their middle linebackers--David Wilson and Shawn Peet.
Wilson, last year's City 2-A player of the year, has been every bit as dominating this year. The 6-0, 200-pound senior has 125 solo tackles, 45 assists, 5 sacks and 3 interceptions. Peet, a 6-0, 200-pound senior who missed two games because of a sprained ankle, has 105 solo tackles, 30 tackle assists, 5 sacks and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
Offensively, both teams rely on a strong rushing attack and pass just often enough to keep defenses honest. Westchester is averaging 28.5 points a game. Only Reseda held the Comets under 20.
Reseda has averaged 27.8 points and scored at least two touchdowns in every game except against Westchester.
Reseda passes the ball more frequently than Westchester but still relies on Ronald Wilkinson, an All-City running back who rushed for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 33-0 semifinal victory over Huntington Park. He gained 111 yards against Westchester.
Westchester is led by running backs Kevin Owens, Corey Henry and Tim Holliday, who alternate behind one of the City's best offensive lines.
"Offensively, we really have to do a better job than last time," Wein said. "We're going to have to get in the end zone."