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Tonight's Top Football Games

November 27, 2002|Eric Stephens


Dorsey (5-6) at Taft (11-0), 7 p.m.

Dorsey Coach Paul Knox saw this coming when the Championship Division playoff brackets were drawn. After defeating Franklin last week, Dorsey meets top-seeded Taft in a rematch of last season's title game, which was won by Dorsey when it recovered a blocked punt in the end zone on the last play of the game. "I'm sure they're going to be emotionally excited to play this game given the circumstances of last season," Knox said. "They're going to be fired up, but for us, it's a playoff game we have to win to move on. It's probably our toughest opponent of the season." Taft, The Times' sixth-ranked team, is the clear favorite to win its second championship, particularly now that second-seeded Carson and third-seeded Crenshaw are out of the tournament. Senior quarterback Cary Dove is coming off a career-high 389-yard performance in a 42-14 first-round victory over Wilmington Banning. Receiver Steve Smith has 60 receptions for 1,018 yards. Dorsey has rallied from a 1-5 start. Sophomore Jeremiah Johnson has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games. The Dons, with nine starters who are sophomores or juniors, have gained confidence throughout the season. "Our kids believe that we're a team that is either in the championship picture or has a say in the championships because someone has to beat us," Knox said.

Roosevelt (10-1) at Venice (9-2), 7 p.m.

These teams have completely different philosophies. Roosevelt rarely diverts from its traditional wing-T attack and has been the section's top rushing team the last three years. Venice airs it out with quarterback Eddie Miller and a host of receivers. Under fifth-year Coach Jose Casagran, Roosevelt believes it has arrived as a section title contender and points to its 14-11 first-round victory over San Pedro. "It wasn't long ago where we wouldn't win that game," Casagran said. "It's about building expectations." The Gondoliers have one of the section's most dynamic offenses. Miller, a senior, threw for 313 yards and accounted for four touchdowns in last week's 47-17 victory over Fremont. For the season, he has completed 73% of his passes for 3,399 yards with only six interceptions.

Fairfax (7-3) at Birmingham (8-3), 7 p.m.

One thing stood out to Fairfax Coach Shane Cox as he viewed game film of the Patriots. "Man, they've got speed," Cox said. "Chad Green is fast." The upstart Lions try for their second consecutive upset. Behind running back Dennis Keyes' 155 yards and four touchdowns, sixth-seeded Birmingham opened the playoffs with a dominating 63-14 victory over Van Nuys Grant. Quarterback Ryan Lombardo has thrown for 2,638 yards and 24 touchdowns. Green, a senior wide-receiver and defensive back, has caught 37 passes for 997 yards. Fairfax has relied on its ground game to control the ball. Senior Derrick Hill is among the section's leaders with more than 1,800 yards rushing.

Jefferson (6-5) at Gardena (8-3), 7 p.m.

Jefferson's 48-28 victory over second-seeded Carson is the story of the tournament so far. The Democrats took advantage of six Colt turnovers and got a huge performance from quarterback Ryan Clark, who ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a 50-yard scoring pass from Gary White. White, who is Jefferson's most dangerous player, helped the Democrats defeat Gardena earlier this season with a game-winning 35-yard touchdown reception in the final minute. "It's on us to prove that we're the better team," Gardena Coach Marshall Jones said. "They beat us. They made the plays they had to make and they beat Carson, which we couldn't do." Gardena has been powered by the running of option quarterback LaFerrell Payne, who has rushed for a team-high 897 yards. Last week, he scored two touchdowns in the final 1 minute 29 seconds to help defeat Sylmar. If Gardena is victorious, it would reach its first Championship Division semifinal since 1983.

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