Somebody should have known something was afoot when Granada Hills Coach Darryl Stroh donned the headset on the sideline in the first quarter. Stroh wears headsets about as often as he listens to rap music.
Stroh, you see, only concerns himself with the defense. Offensive coordinator Tom Harp is the commander-in-chief of the Highlanders' air-oriented attack.
Yet Stroh and Harp are about the only Highlander pair who platooned during Granada Hills' shocking 27-14 win over Carson in Friday night's City Section 4-A Division final at East Los Angeles College. On the field it was strictly a two-way day.
It was the first time a Valley team has won the 4-A title since San Fernando in 1975.
The two-way faces call themselves the Fearsome Foursome, but the group bears little resemblance to the former defensive line of the Rams. The Granada Hills version is lean and consists of three receivers who also play in the secondary. Among the defensive backs, only Kevin Carmichael is a one-way player.
"That's what we call it, the Fearsome Foursome," senior receiver Kyle Jan said. "And each one of us scored tonight."
Underscore scored. Jan and teammates Sean Brown, Darryl Stephenson and Carmichael all scored on receptions or interceptions as Granada Hills stopped Carson's offense with a big-play offense and some timely defense.
Granada Hills has never been known as a defensive power, but the way the Highlanders shut down the Colts--who entered the game ranked No. 2 in a national poll--this could be the all-time Highlander high-water mark. The win was the seventh in a row for Granada Hills, which has allowed just 62 points in that stretch.
Granada Hills (9-3) allowed Carson quarterback George Malauulu to complete only 9 of 21 passes for 126 yards. What's more, the Highlanders recorded interceptions on three consecutive passes in the second half as Granada Hills took control.
"They did it all on their own," said Greg Hawthorne, the Highlanders' secondary coach.
After Granada Hills had taken a 14-6 lead at the half on touchdown passes of 16 and 25 yards from Jeremy Leach to Brown and Jan, respectively, the Highlander defense clamped down on Malauulu.
It was as though Granada Hills said, by George, you'll get nada.
The Highlanders couldn't capitalize on interceptions by Jan and Brown, but Jan's second interception led to a 29-yard Leach-to-Stephenson touchdown pass play that gave Granada Hills a 21-6 lead. Carmichael's 30-yard return of an interception with 5:05 completed Granada Hills' scoring.
Carson finished with 304 yards, but the Colts couldn't punch the ball into the end zone more than twice. "We just couldn't get it in," Carson Coach Gene Vollnogle said.
Some fearsome guys playing two ways did, however.