COMING TO LIFE
Hawthorne Coach Goy Casillas said it was only a matter of getting mad.
Whatever, the Cougars dominated the last 15 minutes Friday night to pull out a crucial 14-10 Bay League victory over host Leuzinger that pushed them into sole possession of first place.
Casillas said Hawthorne finally had enough after watching the underdog Olympians control the game for most of the first three quarters and build a 10-0 lead.
"We were getting frustrated," he said. "The players decided they were going to do something about it, and they did."
Tailback Ira Moreland scored on a 40-yard run with 1:19 left in the third quarter to pull the Cougars within 10-7, and Hawthorne put together an 11-play drive on its next possession to score on a one-yard dive by fullback Armando Fernandez with 6:18 remaining.
"Everyone got hyped," said Hawthorne tailback Morell Ollis, who rushed five times for 27 yards on the game-winning march. "In the first couple of quarters, the offensive line wasn't concentrating. Then Coach Casillas told us a few words, and everybody did their job."
A turning point occurred midway through the third quarter when Leuzinger, holding a 10-0 lead, had a fourth-down pass intercepted by Cougar linebacker Oswaldo Maldonado after the Olympians had driven to the Hawthorne 33.
"Yeah, it changed the momentum," Leuzinger Coach Steve Carnes said. "I'm not disappointed with the call. Maybe we should have been a little more conservative, but we thought we had an opportunity to put them away. The play was there; the man was open. We just threw it into the linebacker."
Leuzinger's three losses this season have come against teams with a combined record of 19-2. Canyon of Canyon Country (6-1) is ranked No. 8 in the CIF-Southern Section Division I poll, Paramount (7-0) is No. 2 in Division II and Hawthorne (6-1) is No. 2 in Division III.
Carson quarterback John Walsh continued his assault on the record books Friday night by passing for 311 yards and six touchdowns in a 48-7 Southern Pacific Conference victory over Narbonne at Gardena High.
The six TD passes represent a school single-game record. Walsh also set Carson marks with his sixth consecutive game of 200 yards or more passing and 93 consecutive attempts without an interception. The last time he had a pass picked off was Sept. 28 against Eisenhower.
For the season, Walsh has completed 104 of 170 passes for 1,995 yards and 22 touchdowns in six games. The school records are 2,404 yards and 30 TDs set last season by Armin Youngblood in 12 games.
Walsh, if he continues at his present pace, will pass for 4,300 yards if Carson plays 13 games by reaching the L.A. City Section 4-A final. No South Bay quarterback has ever passed for 3,000 yards in a season.
Unfortunately, there is no City record book to measure how Walsh compares to the section's passing greats. Mike Smith of Los Altos (a forward with the Boston Celtics) holds the Southern Section record with 3,437 yards in 1982.
Redondo Coach Chris Hyduke had a difficult time recognizing his own team Friday at Rolling Hills, where the Sea Hawks played miserably and lost their Ocean League opener, 34-6.
Redondo entered the game with a plus-13 turnover ratio, but gave the ball away five times (four interceptions, one fumble) compared to one turnover for Rolling Hills. The Sea Hawk defense ranked second in the South Bay, allowing an average of 149.2 yards, but gave up 294 to Rolling Hills. And the offense, averaging 306.2 yards, managed just 115.
Hyduke blamed the poor effort on three factors: 1. Rolling Hills was ready to play after a 32-6 loss to Morningside; 2. Redondo had no school Friday; 3. It was Redondo's first day game in two years.
"I'll be honest with you, I don't like coming up here," Hyduke said. "This is in the afternoon and it changes the kids' rhythms. I'm not trying to make excuses, but the kids weren't focused.
"Maybe this was good for us. I'm looking at it as a positive thing. Maybe now (the players) can get focused and know what it means to be able to play every week."
Rolling Hills tailback Robert Coulter became the first South Bay rusher to reach 1,000 yards by running for 187 yards, including touchdowns of 60 and 12 yards, against Redondo. In seven games, Coulter unofficially has 1,114 yards and eight touchdowns on 148 carries.
Morningside Coach Ron Tatum was understandably worried two weeks ago about opening Ocean League play with back-to-back afternoon games at Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes. But after Friday's 14-0 victory over Palos Verdes, the Monarchs are 2-0 and alone in first place.
Now Tatum is uncomfortable about being in the favorite's role.
"It makes me a little nervous," he said. "Teams are going to be coming after us. I'm not saying that people had taken us for granted, but now we know people are going to come after us a little tougher."