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Patriots Ease Past Cleveland

West Valley: McCleary rushes for 88 yards and four touchdowns as undefeated Birmingham romps to 42-0 victory.


RESEDA — Football isn't supposed to be this easy. It's not supposed to be so laughingly one-sided.

The players at Birmingham High are just learning how to win. Maybe they don't know any better.

A year after winning only two games, the undefeated Patriots are taking it to every team that embarrassed them.

It was Cleveland's turn on Friday night. Birmingham breezed, 42-0, in the West Valley League game, scoring 21 points in each half and holding the Cavaliers to 91 yards.

Last season Cleveland spoiled Birmingham's homecoming, 39-17. What do you know, this was Cleveland's homecoming.

"We wanted to open a wound and pour salt in it," Birmingham receiver John Walker said.

Taft is still licking its wounds from the 41-14 beating Birmingham administered last week, which avenged a 42-19 loss to the Toreadors in 1999. Granada Hills beat Birmingham, 56-0, last year.

Guess who the Patriots (8-0, 3-0 in league play) play next week with the West Valley title on the line?

"I never try to make it personal," running back Kevin McCleary said. "I just come out and play my game."

Which primarily involves taking handoffs and making like a Patriot missile by accelerating quickly and breaking tackles. McCleary had four touchdown runs against Cleveland (6-2, 2-1) and his 88 yards give him 1,056 this season.

McCleary, a junior, scored from 14 yards on Birmingham's first drive, which was highlighted by a 44-yard pass play down the sideline from Scott Jensen to Ramal Porter.

A 26-yard pass from Jensen to sophomore Chad Green set up a nine-yard touchdown by McCleary late in the first quarter, and a fumble recovery by Markell Turner set up McCleary's two-yard scoring run in the second quarter.

In five first-half possessions, Cleveland punted four times and fumbled once.

Birmingham notched its first shutout by holding the Cavaliers to 11 yards passing and sacking Antwine Barfield four times.

Linebackers Eric Ochoa, Chris Meyerson and Turner helped contain Cavalier tailback Matt Clark, who rushed for more than 300 yards in each of the last two games. Clark had 100 yards in 22 carries, but his longest run was 13 yards.

Walker opened the second half by returning the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and Porter scored on a 20-yard reception two minutes later for a 35-0 lead. McCleary capped the scoring with a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter.

"I'm proud of the line and proud of the defense," Birmingham Coach Ed Croson said. "We have a lot of weapons and spread the ball around. The kids are having fun."

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