When other high school football coaches scoff at the records of his Southern Pacific Conference colleagues, Dorsey Coach Paul Knox finds it difficult to just sit back and listen.
"I don't think it will ever stop," Knox said of the seedings for the City Section 4-A playoffs. "Every time there is a team with an undefeated record in league, they think they are better than a team from our conference with three or four losses."
Most of the time, those skeptics have been proven wrong. Consider that 16 of the past 18 City 4-A titles have been won by Banning, Carson or Dorsey. The Colts lead the pack with nine titles.
And the playoffs are running true to form this year as well. ll five Southern Pacific Conference entrants won their first-round games, and three of the four semifinalists--Carson, Crenshaw, and Dorsey--are from the conference. The exception was top-seeded Sylmar, which beat Wilmington Banning, 28-27, in overtime.
San Pedro, the fifth entrant from the Southern Pacific Conference, also made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Crenshaw.
Next Saturday, the Southern Pacific Conference will go for No. 17 when Crenshaw plays Sylmar.
"When you play in a tough conference where everyone is fairly even, you get use to playing intense games every week," Knox said. "You don't have any letdowns."
The Cougars, who finished with a 7-0 record in the Southern Pacific Conference, are making their first City 4-A final appearance. They won a City 3-A championship in 1991, their only football title.
Crenshaw has two outstanding running backs in Farrel Payton and Brandon Seals, who combined to rush for 252 yards and five touchdowns in the quarterfinals.
The Cougars have arguably the best defense in the City, led by defensive ends Kabeer Smith and Kirk Olivers, linebackers Adrian Anderson and Marshon Caulton, and defensive back Drake Beasley and Terrell Jones. All six players were selected to the Southern Pacific Conference first team.
"We have sowed the seeds of our hard work and labor," Crenshaw Coach Robert Garrett said, "and we are reaping the benefits. Now we can be recognized as a true football team in our community and not a junior varsity team to Dorsey."
Sylmar Coach Jeff Engilman has the magic touch. In addition to leading the undefeated Spartans (12-0) to the City title in 1992, Engilman also guided Manual Arts to 3-A titles in 1983 and 1984. Sylmar is led by tailback Durell Price, who has rushed for 1,770 yards and 26 touchdowns. Floyd Chalk, Tyrone Morgan and Gerrod Taylor are also capable running backs. Quarterback Greg Marquez has passed for 19 touchdowns.
Receiver-defensive back Davon Young is the Spartans' second-leading scorer with 15 touchdowns, including seven on punt, kickoff and interception returns.