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CITY FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES : 3-A Final : Franklin Defeats Palisades, 30-14

December 20, 1987|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | Times Staff Writer

The lady who pulled her pickup truck behind the stands at East Los Angeles College's Weingart Stadium sold all 96 commemorative Franklin High School championship T-shirts in about 10 minutes. She came prepared to sell, but not sell out. Business was that good.

"I was waiting a long time for this," the lady said.

So were a lot of other people. Franklin, which won the City 3-A football title last season, only to be stripped of it for using an ineligible player in one playoff game, won it again Saturday night by beating Palisades, 30-14, before a crowd of approximately 2,500 and gave Co-Coach Armando Gonzalez his third championship in as many years.

This one, though, is special. Not only did the Panthers (10-1) make amends for last year's disappointment, they did it with 16 new starters and a quarterback who played second string to his brother in 1986. Ronnie Lopez replaced Ricky Lopez, the City 3-A player of the year, and it was as if nothing had changed, in name or outcome.

"That was the motivation--taking it away from us, taking it away from the people in the stands," Ronnie said. "We came through and showed that last year was no fluke. We can take it next year, too."

Lopez, working mostly with a short dropback, completed 13 of 21 passes for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to Chad Infranca. He connected on 5 of his last 6 attempts for 80 yards. His more-publicized counterpart, Perry Klein, was 22 of 39 for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Klein, a junior, finished the season with 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns. The yardage figure is the No. 2 single-season mark all-time in the nation, surpassed only by the 4,098 of Jimmy Jordan from Leon High of Tallahassee, Fla., in 1975, but Franklin wasn't showing him much reverance afterward. Not even much basic respect.

"We didn't feel coming in that he was very good," said Robin Cardona, the Franklin co-coach in charge of the defense. ". . . He just throws the ball to an area, and the receivers have to be there. All we had to do was beat their receivers there and we would be OK."

Franklin, on the running of Rick Branscombre (77 yards, 1 touchdown in 21 carries) and Lamont Lovett (52 yards in 16 carries), overcame a 7-0 first-quarter Palisades lead with a pair of second-quarter scores.

The Panthers, whose only loss this season was to Taft of Woodland Hills in a non-league game, went ahead to stay on Branscombre's one-yard run after Lopez had connected with Infranca from five yards out.

The lead grew to 21-7 when Lopez converted his third straight quarterback keeper of the drive for a one-yard touchdown on the Panthers' first series of the second half. Palisades (9-3) rebounded on the next possession and cut the advantage to 21-14 when wide receiver Harold Champion caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Klein.

Franklin put the game away with two scores in the fourth quarter--a 22-yard pass from Lopez to Infranca, who made a twisting catch while being closely covered, and a 33-yard field goal by Jose Aguilar.

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