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HIGH SCHOOLS | FOOTBALL REWIND

Late Rally Is Lonely Experience

November 11, 2002|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

With less than six minutes to play Friday, it looked as if Bellflower St. John Bosco was headed toward a homecoming to forget.

The Braves trailed Serra League rival Anaheim Servite by 11 points on a night when a downpour had already dampened spirits.

St. John Bosco fans started filing toward the exits as soon as the Braves turned the ball over to Servite on a fumble with 5:37 left.

"Everyone was leaving," Coach Kiki Mendoza said. "Even some of my coaches were ready to leave."

Those who stayed were rewarded with a fantastic finish, as the Braves capitalized on two Servite fumbles for a 24-20 victory. St. John Bosco moved into sole possession of first place in the league 24 hours later, when Santa Margarita upset Santa Ana Mater Dei, 19-0.

The Braves (7-2, 4-0 in league) play what Mendoza is calling their most important game in 16 years when they take on Mater Dei (7-2, 3-1) on Thursday at Santa Ana Stadium.

A victory would give the Braves their first league title since 1986 and make them the league's top entrant in the Southern Section Division I playoffs.

"Nobody really gave us a chance," said Mendoza, who before this year had never won more than one game in league play during five seasons as coach. "And that's fine by us."

St. John Bosco's last league title came in the Del Rey League, which then comprised Los Angeles Loyola, Encino Crespi, Mission Hills Alemany, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and La Canada St. Francis.

The Braves went on to lose to Crespi in the section championship game that season.

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Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula's continued domination of Beverly Hills kept alive its hopes of a Division III playoff berth.

The Panthers' 34-14 victory over the Normans means Peninsula's game Friday at Inglewood (5-4, 1-2) will decide third place and the final guaranteed playoff berth from the Bay League.

Peninsula (5-4, 1-2) is 7-0 against Beverly Hills since opening in 1991, following the mergers of Palos Verdes, Miraleste and Rolling Hills highs.

Despite the loss, Beverly Hills (6-3, 2-1) qualified for the playoffs along with Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (9-0, 3-0) after the Mustangs' 42-22 victory over Lawndale Leuzinger (3-6, 1-3).

Beverly Hills, which has not won a Bay League championship since 1940, will earn a share of the title with Mira Costa if it defeats the Mustangs on Friday.

The Normans face an uphill climb, considering Mira Costa has won 17 consecutive league games in the last three seasons, including a 42-0 victory over Peninsula on Oct. 18.

Ventura St. Bonaventure and Orange Lutheran, private schools that competed in Division XI a year ago, are enjoying life in predominantly public leagues. Each is the only private school in its respective division.

St. Bonaventure (8-1, 4-0) would wrap up the Channel League title in Division IV with a victory over Ventura Buena (7-2, 4-0) on Thursday.

Recent history favors the Seraphs, who are 48-1 in the last four years.

Orange Lutheran (7-2, 4-0) is the toast of Division VI and would win the Empire League with a victory over Anaheim Loara (0-9, 0-4) on Friday.

The Lancers are 15-0-2 in their last 17 games against public schools, with their only losses in that span coming to Servite (twice), St. Bonaventure (twice) and Mater Dei (once).

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If Arcadia was sending a message to the rest of the Pacific League, Pasadena, at least, received it.

After trailing, 6-0, in the first quarter, the Apaches scored 47 consecutive points for a 47-6 victory.

"We made a statement," Coach Jon Dimalante said. "It was a great game for everybody."

The Apaches (9-0, 4-0), who last season finished second in league, clinched at least a share of the title.

Arcadia can win the title outright with a victory over defending champion Crescenta Valley (5-4, 2-2) on Friday.

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Huntington Beach suffered two devastating losses during its 32-7 defeat at the hands of Sunset League rival Huntington Beach Edison.

The Oilers' fading playoff hopes vanished, but worse, running back Patrick Harrigan was lost for the season because of a knee injury in the first half.

The senior, who rushed for 95 yards, finished the season with 1,921 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Andy Avila rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns for Edison (4-5, 2-2), which will need to defeat Los Alamitos in its regular-season finale to qualify for a possible playoff berth.

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Quarterbacks Matt Engle of El Segundo and Richard Irvin of Pasadena Muir have put up some gaudy numbers over their careers, but nothing like those posted by Charlotte (N.C.) Independence's Chris Leak.

Leak set a national high school record for career touchdown passes Friday when he threw his fifth of the game during Independence's 49-13 victory over Charlotte Vance.

Leak, the younger brother of Tennessee reserve quarterback C.J. Leak, has 171 touchdown passes, surpassing the mark of 170 set by Rhett Lashlee of Shiloh (Ark.) Christian from 1999-2001.

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Correspondents Steven Herbert and Eric Maddy, and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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