The Southeast/Long Beach area is rich with good high school football teams this fall. At just past the halfway mark in the season, 11 clubs are ranked in the Top 10 of their respective CIF Southern Section divisions.
Nine are undefeated: Poly, Wilson, Dominguez, Paramount, Cerritos, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Artesia and South Gate.
In Division I of the Southern Section poll this week, Poly is ranked 5th and St. Paul is 8th. Wilson just missed making the Top 10.
In Division III, Dominguez is 2nd, Paramount 4th, Cerritos 6th and Schurr 10th.
In Division IV, Bell Gardens is 2nd.
In Division VI, Artesia is 3rd and Bellflower 4th.
In Division IX, Whittier Christian is 3rd and Valley Christian 4th.
The 13 top area teams have a combined record of 67-5-3.
Here is a league-by-league progress report:
San Gabriel Valley League
Paramount, Dominguez and Cerritos have yet to lose.
Paramount, 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league, has a fast, aggressive team that has excelled defensively--Aaron Pruitt already has more than 90 tackles to lead the Southern Section statistics charts.
The Pirates beat Lynwood, 28-6, two weeks ago, shutting down Charles Levy, Lynwood's do-everything quarterback.
"We don't have a Levy, but we've got a lot of real good kids," Paramount Coach Ken Sutch said.
Pirate quarterback Jack Manu has completed 55% of his passes for 610 yards and 6 TDs--and he may be the best runner on the team.
Fullback Ken Walker of Dominguez rushed for 192 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Dons, 6-0 and 2-0, unveiled a wishbone offense and crushed Gahr, 42-14, last Friday night.
The big game this Friday night is Paramount at Cerritos. Cerritos is at Dominguez on Oct. 28. Paramount is at Dominguez on Nov. 4.
Cerritos affirmed its talent last Friday with a surprisingly easy 38-13 victory at Warren High in Downey. The speedy Dons are 5-0-1 and 3-0; they were tied by Artesia in a pre-league game. They have one of the area's rushing leaders in Sal Mejico.
Lynwood, with losses to Paramount and Dominguez, is 3-3 and 1-2.
Warren is 4-2 overall but 1-2 in the league.
Downey opened with three impressive pre-league victories, but has lost close league games to Cerritos, Warren and Lynwood, and this Friday must face Dominguez.
Gahr, 2-4 and 0-2, has won as many games as it did the last two seasons. But the Gladiators are still no match for the league's best.
Ranked second in the CIF Southern Section Division I poll before Friday, Poly High of Long Beach got a shock when it was tied by Jordan, 6-6, in a league opener. "We just weren't ready to play," said Thomas Whiting, Poly's co-head coach. "They're a good club, and maybe we didn't take them seriously enough."
Poly had come into the game with a 4-0 record, including victories over Banning, Bishop Amat and Fountain Valley. Now, after turning the ball over five times against the Panthers, the Jackrabbits find themselves 0-0-1 in the league, behind Wilson and Millikan, both 1-0. And their star tackle, Marcellous Elder, has a sprained ankle.
Quarterback Michael Carter has thrown 8 TD passes for Poly.
Jordan, 0-4-1 and 0-0-1, must be the best winless team around. The Panthers put up tough struggles before losing to El Toro, Edison, St. Paul and Servite. "We're a scrappy group of guys, but no one gives us credit," said Coach Mike Ono, who believes the record would be much better if not for youthful mistakes by his players and questionable calls by officials.
Johnny Robinson, who has run for more than 100 yards in all five games, will try to lead Jordan to its first victory Friday night at Compton.
Wilson of Long Beach, 5-0 overall, is the only team in the league with an unblemished record. The Bruins, with running back Scott Bernauer gaining 105 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns, opened their league schedule Friday with a 19-6 victory over Compton.
Millikan of Long Beach, 3-2 overall after a slow start, beat Lakewood, 14-3, last week and will play Poly at Veterans Stadium on Friday night.
Lakewood, which opened the season with a victory over El Rancho, has lost four straight games, three by lopsided scores.
Compton, 0-4 and 0-1, has scored just 18 points. But league coaches believe the Tarbabes, led by scrambling quarterback Terrence Adams, are better than their record indicates.
Bell Gardens is off to a 6-0, 3-0 start, which amazes Coach Dave Newell because of the Lancers' lack of size. "We're winning with 140-pounders," he said.
Among the little guys are 137-pound tailback Rudy Ramirez, who has scored 15 touchdowns; Adalo Tomas, a 146-pound option quarterback; 152-pound fullback Danny Palacios, and 153-pound linebacker Musio Garcia, the team's leading tackler.
The Lancers own non-league victories over Bell and Claremont--both big, strong teams--and have already defeated their main rival for the league title--El Rancho, 30-27.