Adversity didn't stop the Banning High football team Saturday in a 33-0 victory over Pacific League rival Dorsey at Cerritos College.
In addition to being without injured tailbacks Jermaine Claxton and Sean Turner, Banning (5-4, 4-2 in league) had to cope with the death of starting guard Andrew Lalau's mother, who died Saturday morning after a bout with cancer.
"It brought the team together," Coach Ed Paculba said. "We told Andrew before our pregame meal this morning that he could do whatever he wanted, and I think playing helped him. He is a very proud person and the team really came to help him."
Lalau and his fellow linemen dominated the line of scrimmage and helped the Pilots rush for 170 yards.
"I wasn't going to get down on myself," Lalau said. "I wanted to go out there and kill me some Dons. I wasn't going to play, but then I realized my mom would have wanted me to. She would have wanted me to be successful."
The main beneficiary of the line's blocking was tailback Ricardo Diaz.
A junior starting his first game in place of Claxton and Turner, Diaz rushed for 126 yards in 22 carries and two touchdowns. He scored a third touchdown on a 72-yard pass from quarterback London McBride.
"He did a heck of a job," Paculba said of Diaz. "He and the offensive line really came through when we needed them."
Banning scored midway through the second quarter when Diaz capped a seven-play, 71-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to make the score 6-0.
Dorsey (6-3, 3-3) managed only 19 yards offense in the first half and finished with 68 yards. Neither of the Dons' quarterbacks, Roderick Brown or Antwain Wilson, was able to complete a pass.
The Pilots put the game away by scoring three touchdowns in an eight-minute span starting late in the third quarter. A 56-yard interception return by free safety Eric Whitfield capped the surge. It was his seventh interception of the season and the second he has returned for a TD.
Banning's performance was encouraging to Paculba, whose team was coming off an emotional loss to archrival Carson, 20-14.
"I was really happy with the kids," Paculba said. "They showed that they wanted this game more then Dorsey. We had to improve on our offense, and we did that."
The Pilots totaled 304 yards in offense, with McBride completing five of nine passes for 134 yards.
The victory kept Banning's hopes alive for a share of the Pacific League title, but for that to happen, the Pilots must beat Crenshaw on Thursday and San Pedro must beat Carson on Friday.