Sometimes Gene Vollnogle must feel like the manager of a heavyweight boxer nobody wants to fight.
The Carson football coach is always looking for worthy challengers, but he rarely finds teams willing to play his powerhouse Colts.
This inevitably results in a limited schedule.
After Carson ends the season Friday night in the L. A. City 4-A championship game at East Los Angeles College, 10 of the Colts' 12 opponents will have been teams from the Pacific and Valley leagues, the two leagues that make up the 4-A Division in the City section.
Carson (11-0) will try to win its fourth city title in six years against Granada Hills (8-3), a team it humbled earlier this season, 42-14.
Although the Colts are ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Today, they have reached that level by beating a relatively small circle of teams.
"We're sort of stuck," Vollnogle said. "It's hard for us to get CIF teams to play us. We don't have a whole lot of (scheduling) chances."
Fontana, Loyola and Lakewood are CIF-Southern Section teams that have broken contracts with Carson in recent years. Fontana, ranked No. 4 in the nation by USA Today, completed a 14-0 season Friday by winning the Big Five Conference championship.
"They all had two-year contracts," Vollnogle said. "And after the first year, they backed out."
Carson beat Lakewood 43-6 and Loyola 48-14 in 1980, and shut out Fontana 14-0 in 1981.
Three cases of hit and run--only the victims did the running.
Bishop Montgomery, the only Southern Section team in the South Bay to play Carson since 1972, will not honor the second year of a two-year contract with Carson after suffering a 50-0 loss to the Colts. At least credit Montgomery for playing Carson each of the last three years. But after the Knights were beaten in those games by a combined score of 112-10, there wasn't much point in continuing the series.
Vollnogle is hopeful he can fill the opening in Carson's 1988 schedule with Bishop Amat, a perennial power in the Southern Section.
Aside from their annual battles with Banning, the Colts have had difficulty finding competitive foes. Even Banning failed to mount a challenge this season, losing to Carson 35-7 and bowing out in the first round of the playoffs.
There has been talk in the past about a possible postseason match-up between the City 4-A champion and the Big Five Conference champion, but so far that is all it has been--talk. Another "dream game" would match Carson against North Hills of Pittsburgh, the mythical national champion.
"The kids would enjoy playing Fontana," Vollnogle said. "They want them so bad. They even talk about playing North Hills.
"They want to play all those schools. And I go along with them."
Confined to the limited competition in the City section, though, Carson has to settle for being a big fish in a small pond.
They played another "Cliffhanger" Tuesday night at Rolling Hills.
The Rolling Hills basketball team, which has made a habit of winning close games since Cliff Warren became coach two years ago, pulled out a 60-59 victory over St. Bernard on two free throws by forward Stu Talley with three seconds remaining.
Talley's free throws came after Rolling Hills (7-1) had squandered all of a 21-point lead in the third quarter. St. Bernard (6-2) rallied to take its only lead of the game, 59-58, on a steal and layup by point guard Keith Brown with 20 seconds left.
St. Bernard's full-court press forced Rolling Hills into numerous turnovers, including two in the final 44 seconds.
"I don't think we caved in," Warren said. "I just think St. Bernard came after us. They took us out of our offense. We didn't run one offensive pattern in the second half."
Rolling Hills now owns a 19-1 home record in three seasons under Warren. The Titans' only loss at Rolling Hills during that period came against Santa Monica in the 1985-86 season. Overall, they are 54-11 under Warren.
St. Bernard center Ed Stokes, a 6-10 junior who missed the Pacific Shores Tournament because of tendinitis of the hip, showed that the lack of practice time has hurt his game. He missed all five of his field goal attempts in the first half, and two others were blocked by Rolling Hills' 6-3 center, John Hardy, who led all scorers with 24 points.
Miraleste basketball Coach Todd Mirsky doesn't know what to expect when the Marauders play host to Junction City High of Oregon on Friday night.
"I don't know if it's eight lumberjacks coming down or what," he said. "I'm assuming a team doesn't go two states to get killed."
Junction City contacted Miraleste Athletic Director Tom Graves during the off-season and set up Friday's double-header. Miraleste will play the Junction City girls' team at 6 p.m., followed by the boys' game at 7:30.
Saturday, Miraleste's boys will play an alumni team at noon. That game will be followed by a contest between alumni from the 1970s and alumni from the 1980s.
"We've had such good response, we had to arrange a second game," Mirsky said. "So far, we've got 40 (alumni) players lined up."