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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Taft's Defeat Is Starr Crossed

City Championship: Coach, who earlier announced his resignation, says he will stay after Crenshaw wins, 36-25.

November 23, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SOUTH GATE — Taft High lost its playoff game Wednesday night but regained its coach.

Four turnovers and Crenshaw's exceptional 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 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 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 title. The Cougars opened a 24-6 halftime lead and never trailed.

Devin Hollins completed 13 of 21 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown for Crenshaw. He also scored a touchdown.

Terrence Whitehead, who rushed for 122 yards in 11 carries, scored on a 63-yard pass play from Hollins and on a 57-yard run.

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

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 scoring drives.

In the second half, each time Taft seemed ready to threaten, the Cougars would respond.

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 scored on a 55-yard touchdown pass play from Clausen, then Whitehead answered with his 57-yard run.

After Crenshaw scored on its opening possession, the Toreadors closed to within 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, Hollins connected with Whitehead for a 63-yard touchdown.

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

Clausen couldn't generate much offense. His under-thrown ball was intercepted by Tracy Jones on the Crenshaw eight with 1:40 to play before halftime, taking away a Taft scoring opportunity.

Clausen completed 12 of 24 passes for 121 yards in the first half.

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