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Eric Sondheimer ON HIGH SCHOOLS

De La Salle defines excellence

September 15, 2008|Eric Sondheimer

It's hard to imagine any high school sports team going 12 seasons without a defeat, let alone doing it in football.

That was the record-breaking accomplishment of Concord De La Salle and Coach Bob Ladouceur from 1992 through 2003, resulting in a 151-game winning streak.

On Saturday, De La Salle (1-0) comes to Southern California to play Los Angeles Loyola (2-0) in a 7 p.m. nonleague game at Glendale High, and the curiosity factor alone ought to bring out fans en masse.

"I've talked to many kids who played there," Loyola Coach Jeff Kearin said. "I've asked them, 'What's the mystique?' They just say it's all about no compromise in anything they do from December to December in terms how they train and their expectations."

De La Salle opened its season with a 29-28 victory over San Mateo Serra on Saturday. The Spartans haven't lost to a Northern California team since 1991.

Loyola, which lost to De La Salle, 55-14, last season, understands what it takes to compete with the Spartans.

"They just get off the ball, they play fast, they tackle with great discipline and technique, and they do everything the way it's supposed to be done," Kearin said. "I learned we need to play mistake-free football to have a chance to play with them."

One of few coaches to have beaten De La Salle is Harry Welch, who guided Canyon Country Canyon to a 27-13 victory over the Spartans in the 2006 CIF state Division I bowl championship game.

"I think on that one night, we were a little more prepared and a little more focused and a little more motivated," Welch said. "They are the premier team in California."

The one advantage Loyola might have is the presence of junior running back Anthony Barr, one of the most exciting college prospects in the state. He's 6 feet 4, weighs 223 pounds and has rushed for 220 and 161 yards, respectively, in his first two games this season.

"He's so physical," Kearin said. "That physicality is what he's developed in the last year. He really brings it this year, and that's darn impressive."

It's a great weekend for high school football, starting with Corona Centennial (1-0) facing Santa Ana Mater Dei (2-0) Friday night at Santa Ana Stadium in a rematch of a game last season won by Mater Dei, 51-37, in which the teams combined for a state-record 1,302 yards in offense.

On the same night, Anaheim Servite (2-0) plays at Encino Crespi (2-0) in a rematch of last year's Pac-5 Division semifinal won by Crespi, 13-10, in overtime.

The biggest upset in Week 1 was La Puente Bishop Amat rallying from a 24-0 deficit to defeat Orange Lutheran, 47-39.

Orange Lutheran had two interceptions and three fumbles in the second half.

For first-year Bishop Amat Coach Steve Hagerty, the victory helped validate the message he has been telling his players -- to play hard.

"Maybe the gods were smiling or the planets were aligned," he said. "We don't care. It was a great win."

For all the talk about how strong the Trinity League is, the Serra League, with Bishop Amat, Crespi, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Loyola, is a combined 6-1 to start the season.

Gardena Serra would like the players at Westlake Village Oaks Christian to know they shouldn't be measuring their championship ring sizes just yet.

Serra (2-0), which plays in the same Northwest Division as the Lions, knocked off City Section power Carson, 21-19. Carl Winston rushed for 229 yards, and Serra's defense held the Colts to less than 100 yards rushing. This was the same Carson team that lost to Mater Dei in triple overtime last week.

"It was a huge win for us," Coach Scott Altenberg said.

Last season, Serra lost to Oaks Christian, 44-7, in the second round of the playoffs.

"We got beaten up," Altenberg said. "We didn't play anybody in preseason. We weren't ready."

Playing Carson and later this season Woodland Hills Taft is just the kind of preparation the Cavaliers need.

If this is truly the year of the quarterback, one who shouldn't be overlooked is Keith Price from Bellflower St. John Bosco. The Washington commit completed 13 of 16 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-0 victory over La Verne Damien.

His ability to run and pass is going to make the Braves (2-0) a dangerous Trinity League team.


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