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scene in the Southland

Crenshaw Wins, but Taft Gets Small Victory

Prep football: Starr reverses decision to resign after Toreadors fall to Cougars, 36-25, in City Championship quarterfinal.


Woodland Hills Taft High lost its playoff game Wednesday night but regained its coach.

Four turnovers and Crenshaw's exceptional team speed doomed the Toreadors from the outset in a 36-25 City Championship quarterfinal defeat at South Gate High.

After the game, Troy Starr announced he would stay as coach, reversing a decision he had made four weeks ago to resign for family reasons.

Seniors were in tears after the defeat, but Taft's underclassmen felt relief that their ninth-year coach with a glittering record of 87-25-1 would be coming back.

"He shocked us again," sophomore Steve Smith said.

Said Starr: "I just had a lot of long talks with my family. They wanted me to stay. I just need to find balance with my family and football."

There was nothing Starr could do to derail unbeaten Crenshaw (12-0), which appears headed for the City championship. The Cougars opened a 24-6 halftime lead and never trailed.

Quarterback Devin Hollins completed 13 of 21 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown. He also scored a touchdown. Terrence Whitehead scored two long touchdowns, one on a 63-yard pass from Hollins and the other on a 57-yard run.

Crenshaw's defense, known for producing turnovers, came through with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Quarterback Rick Clausen of Taft completed 20 of 40 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns, but his two interceptions deep in Crenshaw territory wiped out potential Taft scoring drives.

In the second half, each time Taft looked ready to threaten, the Cougars responded.

Smith caught a nine-yard touchdown pass with 1:45 left in the third quarter, pulling Taft to within, 24-12, but Hollins broke off a 20-yard touchdown run, making it 30-12.

Chris Morgan caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Clausen, then Whitehead answered with his 57-yard run.

After Crenshaw scored on its opening possession, the Toreadors closed to 8-6 with 6:09 left in the second quarter on Morgan's 24-yard touchdown reception.

Then Crenshaw scored two touchdowns in quick fashion. On second and one from the Crenshaw 37, Hollins connected with Whitehead on a 63-yard touchdown pass.

On the next possession, Clausen fumbled when hit in the end zone, with the Cougars' Shaun Rogers falling on the ball for a touchdown.

Taft's defense was successful at times putting pressure on Hollins. Lamar Maxie dropped Hollins for a 20-yard loss on one play.

But Clausen couldn't generate much offense. His underthrown ball was intercepted by Tracy Jones on the Crenshaw eight-yard line with 1:40 to play before halftime, taking away a badly needed Taft scoring opportunity. Clausen was 12 of 24 for 121 yards in the first half.

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