Redondo Union High School students fess up to staging the first prank--blanketing their archrival's campus with a top 10 list of reasons Redondo is better than Mira Costa.
Manhattan Beach's Mira Costa got even early Thursday by painting the red "R" that sits above the Redondo High football field Mustang green, knowing that every student on campus would pass by the school initial on the way to the Crush Costa Pep Rally. The Redondo Sea Hawks responded by beating a green and gold mustang pinata to a pulp.
The traditional cross-town rivalry is growing intense as the schools prepare to face each other in tonight's California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section football playoff for the first time in history. It's become the beach cities' version of USC vs. UCLA.
"Two teams making it into the playoffs from the South Bay is pretty rare," said Jessica Gonzalez, a Mira Costa cheerleader. "Winning this game is about who gets bragging rights."
In an area in which only two high schools serve the student population of Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach, the Division 9 semifinal game carries a lot of weight.
Because residents of Hermosa Beach and north Redondo Beach can choose which school they want to attend, the rivalry reaches into some homes where siblings may attend opposing schools.
School allegiance is a hot topic among faculty as well because many of the teachers, and even some of the football coaches, have worked in both school districts.
"The rivalry is more important to the [faculty] than the kids since there's so many of us who have worked in both districts," said Jerry Davis, superintendent of the Manhattan Beach district and the former principal of Redondo Union. "We all like to give each other a hard time, but the bottom line is we're proud of both schools."
Five years ago, the schools were in the South Bay Union High School District. In 1992, it was dissolved and Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach established their own unified school districts and a five-year agreement that allows students in north Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach to attend either high school.
About 500 students from north Redondo Beach, which butts up to the Mira Costa campus, attend the Manhattan Beach school, accounting for about 35% of the school's football team.
Some Sea Hawks fans say the Mustangs, who beat Redondo during the regular season 31-20 on their way to a 10-2 season, wouldn't be in the playoffs without the Redondo players. Mustang supporters say "nonsense."
Reaching the playoffs, scheduled for 7 p.m. at El Camino College in Torrance, is old hat for Mira Costa, which has made it this far for the last four years. Redondo, which finished 9-3 this season, hasn't reached the playoffs in the last half-century. Exactly 55 years ago today the Sea Hawks defeated Rancho Alamitos in the championship game. The winner of tonight's game will play the winner of the Beverly Hills vs. Monrovia.
As a result, hundreds of Redondo alumni have come back to the campus. The "Senile Sea Hawks," alumni who played on Redondo sports teams in the 1940s and '50s, plan to lend their vocal support at the game. Joe Noble, an alumni, has chipped in to help buy 1,000 red and white pom-poms.
Bob Paulson, head of student services for Redondo Union and a former Mira Costa vice principal, said: "This is one of the most enthusiastic games we've ever had."
The Mustangs are equally amped.
"We're gonna win, but we don't need to rub in their face," said Megan Walker, a Mira Costa cheerleader. "Redondo Beach has a good team, but we're better."