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Carson's Rout Erases Doubt


There were times this season when defending City Section champion Carson High looked nothing like a team that was picked to repeat by most section coaches.

Untimely missteps put the Colts in a precarious position entering Wednesday night's Marine League finale against rival Wilmington Banning.

A victory would guarantee the Colts a share of the league title and advantageous seeding in the Championship Division playoffs. A loss would drop them to fourth place and possible exile to the Invitational division.

Carson came out looking like the team it was expected to be all along and did not let up until it had rolled over Banning, 48-18, before an estimated 4,000 at Gardena High.

Carson running back James Robinson rushed for 158 yards in 16 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 11, 10 and 31 yards out of the Colts' wing-T offense.

Trevion Stephens rushed for 85 yards in nine carries, including a 27-yard touchdown run. He also scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Justin Cooper, who completed six of 11 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

"We just came out focused and tried to execute every play to perfection," said Carson wide receiver Avantae Arrington, who caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score. "This is the way you want to be playing going into the playoffs."

Carson, which committed six turnovers in a loss to Gardena last week, finished the regular season 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the Marine League. The Colts secured the league's automatic berth in the playoffs regardless of whether San Pedro (6-3, 3-1) defeats Harbor City Narbonne (5-4, 1-3) tonight. Carson defeated San Pedro, 23-15, on Oct. 27.

Carson Coach John Aguirre said he expects his team to be seeded among the top four when the playoff selection committee meets Friday morning.

"Crenshaw is No. 1 in my book," Aguirre said. "Sylmar is undefeated going into their last game and so is Birmingham, but I'm not sure where they [Birmingham] fall in the overall picture."

Banning, which played perhaps the toughest preleague schedule in the state, finished 4-6 and 3-2 in the Marine League. The Pilots, the defending Invitational champions, are likely to finish third in the league standings and are expected to receive an at-large berth in the Championship Division playoffs.

Banning Coach Ed Lalau said his team was stunned by Carson's quick-strike capability that helped the Colts build a 34-0 halftime lead.

"We didn't have any answer for their offense," Lalau said. "By the time we had an idea how they were clicking, it was too late. They threw the book at us."

Banning finally scored with 4:33 left in the third quarter on running back A.J. Tuitele's three-yard run. The Pilots pulled to within 34-12 on Sal Guerrero's one-yard run with 9:19 left in the quarter, but Robinson extinguished any hope of a comeback when he ran 31 yards for a touchdown with 9:06 remaining in the game.

Tuitele finished with 140 yards in 16 carries and scored the Pilots' final touchdown on a 44-yard run.

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