YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Playoffs Again Bring Trouble for Kennedy : High school football: Player suspensions, injuries, squabble with Crenshaw over game site gnaw at Golden Cougars.


Eliminate one problem and two more shall take its place.

So it goes with the Kennedy High football team and the postseason. The Golden Cougars missed the City Section 4-A Division playoffs the past two years amid controversial circumstances--both involving this year's first-round opponent, Crenshaw.

And when Kennedy meets Crenshaw in Friday's first round the Golden Cougars might be without the services of as many as four starters.

Sophomore receiver Aaron Lewis and senior cornerback Ladell Shuler were suspended from school last week for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Their suspension ends today, but school administrators ruled that Lewis cannot return to the team this season. Shuler's status will be determined today.

Lewis is the Golden Cougars' leading receiver with 27 catches for 359 yards and five touchdowns. Shuler's younger brother, Lamar, will start if Ladell cannot play. Laron Scarbrough will start in Lewis' place.

Leading rusher Antwane Smith (1,486 yards and 20 touchdowns) suffered a strained left knee last week against Taft and has practiced lightly. Coach Bob Francola said Smith's status will be determined Friday afternoon. Additionally, strong safety Laron Davis suffered a mild concussion against Taft and is questionable to play Friday.

Meanwhile, the schools spent half the week haggling over a site. Crenshaw's field has no lights and the school at first suggested playing a day game there, or a 5 p.m. contest at Jackie Robinson Stadium as the first game of a doubleheader before the Granada Hills-Dorsey game at 7:30.

"It's ridiculous," Francola said. "That wouldn't give parents a chance to get to the game."

After negotiations that Francola described as "an ongoing soap opera," Crenshaw reluctantly agreed Wednesday to play at Palisades High at 7.

Two years ago, Kennedy was voted into the 4-A playoffs by other City coaches but Francola relinquished the bid to Crenshaw. His reasoning? Fairness. Crenshaw earlier had beaten his team.

Last season, Kennedy beat Crenshaw, 55-12, but the Cougars earned a playoff berth and Kennedy did not. The Golden Cougars were shut out from the postseason when they lost a California tiebreaker to El Camino Real after the regular-season finale.

"Nobody stood up and said we deserved to be in (the 4-A playoffs)," Francola said. "This year we're in, and we're excited with who we're playing. It's karma, I guess."

Los Angeles Times Articles