La Mirada High was braced for a high-scoring game in the Southern Section Division VIII final against Bloomington, a team that set the national single-season scoring record.
"We knew they were going to break a couple here and there," La Mirada cornerback Eric Martinez said.
What the Matadores didn't count on were three turnovers in a 48-32 defeat Friday night at La Mirada.
The most costly was a fumble on the La Mirada 15-yard line in the fourth quarter with Bloomington leading, 42-32.
Bloomington (14-0) drove 83 yards in 11 plays to take a 48-32 lead on Cheyane Caldwell's second touchdown, a 29-yard run with 2 minutes 27 seconds to play.
La Mirada (13-1), which trailed, 28-11, in the second quarter and 34-18 midway through the third quarter, closed to 34-32 on Brett Darnell's four-yard scoring run with two minutes left in the third quarter. Darnell's run was set up by Hugo Corral's 89-yard run.
Corral had 174 yards and two touchdowns in nine carries and Mike Palumbo passed for 153 yards and a touchdown.
"Our strategy was to stay close and hope they would tire in the second half," La Mirada Coach John Mele said about Bloomington, a 27-player team that had nine two-way starters. "There's no question their offense is for real. We had a chance to win it but we had the (fumble) and they jumped on it."
Bloomington, which averaged 62.9 points and scored 82 points or more three times, finished with 880 points to break the 1975 record of 827 set by Big Sandy, Tex., in 14 games.
The Bruins' double tight end, double-wing offense featured only eight running plays and two passing plays, but racked up 560 yards. Greg Oliver, the Southern Section record-holder with 352 points in a season, rushed for 245 yards and four touchdowns and Caldwell ran for 196 yards.
"They send a lot of guys at you and you really don't know who the ball carrier is," Martinez said.
FIRST OF A KIND
Bell High defeated Birmingham, 25-3, to win its first City Section football title in the 3-A final Friday night at Gardena High.
Vern Benard rushed for 183 yards in 17 carries and a touchdown for Bell (11-3), which lost in the 3-A final in 1972, 1975, 1976 and the 2-A final in 1984.
The Eagles scored 25 consecutive points, 18 in the second quarter, to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Gus Valenzuela completed eight of 19 passes for 167 yards and finished the season with a school-record 2,143 yards passing.
Fred Montiel of Montebello and James Sherman of Whittier were named Southeast back and lineman of the year and John Mele of La Mirada was named coach of the year at The Times' All-Star prep football brunch Sunday at the Cerritos Sheraton.
Montiel made The Times' Southeast team on defense last season. The Almont League's most valuable player saw action at quarterback, outside linebacker and punter. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior completed 62 of 129 passes for 10 touchdowns. He also rushed for 479 yards in 74 carries and eight touchdowns. On defense, he led the Oilers with 39 tackles and 48 assists.
Sherman, a 6-4, 290-pound senior tackle, was selected to the The Times' Southeast team for the second year in a row. Nicknamed the "Sherminator" by teammates, the Del Rio League lineman of the year can bench-press 430 pounds and has attracted scholarship interest from UCLA, USC, Washington, Colorado and Texas.
Mele guided La Mirada (13-1) to the Division VIII final for the second time in three years. The Matadores went undefeated in Suburban League play and had their first unbeaten regular season since 1984 under Mele, in his 16th year of coaching.
* Michael Fletcher of Paramount and Taeao Salausa of Long Beach Poly were named South Coast back and lineman of the year and Mike Ono of Jordan was honored as the South Coast coach of the year.
Fletcher, a 5-11, 185-pound quarterback, rushed for 1,318 yards and 18 touchdowns in 110 carries and passed for 1,126 yards and 12 touchdowns to help Paramount to a share of the San Gabriel Valley League title.
The 6-3, 230-pound Salausa, who had 12 quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery, was an integral part of Poly's drive toward a share of its third consecutive Moore League title.
Ono directed Jordan its first playoff victory in 47 years, a 46-21 victory over Crespi in the first round of the Division I playoffs. Jordan (8-4) finished in a three-way tie with Poly and Lakewood for the Moore League title for a share of its third championship in seven seasons.
The Long Beach State volleyball team failed to qualify for the national final four for the first time in four years, losing to Ohio State, 15-5, 14-16, 15-9, 15-5, in the final of the Northwest Regional Saturday at the Gold Mine.
Nichelle Burton and Brita Schwerm had 24 and 19 kills for second-seeded Long Beach (27-5), the defending national champion which won its fourth consecutive Big West Conference title.