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December 12, 1996

Will Santa Ana Mater Dei finish the season the way it started, as the Southland's No. 1-ranked team? Can Cathedral and Manhattan Beach Mira Costa survive their four-hour road trips and prevail? Will Dwayne DeSpain of Hacienda Heights Los Altos go down in the record books for most titles won by a coach?

These are some of the questions that will be answered Friday and Saturday, when 14 championship games in the City and Southern sections are held.

Here's a look at the matchups:


San Pedro (13-0) vs. Woodland Hills Taft (13-0)

Friday at Coliseum, 8 p.m., Channel 58 (KLCS)

There is a changing of the guard in the City Section with relative newcomers San Pedro and Taft meeting after each going through the season without a loss. The teams played in the 3-A final in 1992 with San Pedro winning, 24-7, but both have improved and moved up to 4-A since then. The Pirates lost to Dorsey in last year's 4-A championship game, 10-8. The teams rely heavily on their quarterbacks. San Pedro's Melvin Yarbrough has passed for 1,774 yards and 22 touchdowns; Taft's Nick DiPadova has passed for 2,581 yards and 31 touchdowns.


Van Nuys (9-4) vs. Wilson (9-4)

Friday at Coliseum, 5 p.m.

Van Nuys is making its third appearance in a championship game since 1919 and its first since 1981. Wilson, which won four consecutive 3-A titles in the late 1970s, hasn't played in a final since 1983. Wilson usually sets up in a single-back offense, and quarterback Julio Briones, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound first-year starter, has passed for 27 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards. Van Nuys' offense is based on ball control, and senior running back Carlos Mack has rushed for 1,351 yards and 18 touchdowns.


Loyola (12-1) vs. Santa Ana Mater Dei (13-0)

Saturday at Coliseum, 7:40 p.m. Channel 13

Loyola is the last roadblock to the Monarchs' second Division I championship in three years. Loyola will be playing in its second consecutive title game, having lost to Bishop Amat, 14-10, last year. Mater Dei quarterback Nick Stremick and receiver Rod Perry Jr. have been exceptional in the playoffs. Perry has 19 receptions for 417 yards and eight touchdowns, and Stremick has passed for 709 yards and nine touchdowns. For Loyola, Stephen Faulk, who has rushed for 945 yards and 15 touchdowns, and Wesley Willard, who has rushed for 981 yards and six touchdowns, lead a potent running game.


Chino Hills Ayala (11-2) vs. Compton Dominguez (12-1)

Friday at Cerritos College, 7:30 p.m.

If not for an upset by Paramount on Nov. 7, Dominguez might well be playing for the top ranking in the Southland. The Dons have outscored opponents, 496-84. The key is quarterback Jason Thomas, who is also one of the area's top basketball players. Thomas, who sat out the Paramount game for disciplinary reasons, has rushed for 821 yards, has two receptions for 50 yards, 1,326 passing yards and 36 touchdowns, including four on defense. Ayala utilizes a balanced-attack on offense. Quarterback Mike Frost has had several big passes in the playoffs, and running back Matt Johnson had 140 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 30-10 victory over Palmdale Highland.


Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (12-1) vs. Camarillo (12-1)

Friday at Camarillo High, 7:30 p.m.

The talents of quarterback Joe Borchard of Camarillo and running back Justin Fargas of Notre Dame will be showcased in a game matching high-scoring teams. Camarillo and Notre Dame each has averaged 44 points a game over the past six weeks. Borchard has passed for 2,675 yards and 29 touchdowns. Fargas has rushed for 2,774 yards and 31 touchdowns. Notre Dame relies on ball control and playing mistake free: Quarterback Jorge Piedra has thrown only two interceptions.


Corona Centennial (12-1) vs. Alta Loma (12-1)

Friday at University of Redlands, 7:30 p.m.

Making its first appearance in a championship game since the school opened in 1989, Centennial will count on its defense to try to contain Alta Loma's speed. Senior linebacker Shanga Mike Wilson leads the team with 180 tackles. Senior running back Damion Barton has gained 1,910 yards and 25 touchdowns. Alta Loma will try to win its second section title in three years. The offense is led by senior tailback Ighe Evero, who has rushed for 682 yards and six touchdowns, and senior receiver Carlos Bocanegra, who has 44 receptions for 688 yards.


Santa Margarita (12-1) vs. Newport Harbor (12-1)

Saturday at CS Fullerton, 7:30 p.m.

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