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Eric Sondheimer ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Records deceiving in City

September 22, 2008|Eric Sondheimer

There's an illusion in City Section football that a shift in power has taken place three weeks into the season.

Suddenly, the City title favorites are Harbor City Narbonne (2-0), Woodland Hills Taft (2-0), Dorsey (2-0) and San Pedro (2-0).

And look who's supposedly headed for mediocrity: Birmingham (0-3), Crenshaw (0-3), Carson (1-2) and Los Angeles Jordan (1-2).

The problem with such an erroneous conclusion is that it's based solely on won-loss records while not taking into account strength of schedule.

Nine of the 10 losses inflicted on Birmingham, Crenshaw, Carson and Jordan were to quality Southern Section teams. The unbeaten teams got seven of their eight victories against fellow City teams.

In other words, don't be fooled by the early season troubles of the true City title favorites.

Carson, Birmingham and Jordan still have to play Long Beach Poly, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Santa Ana Mater Dei this week, which means more losses are coming. But the lessons learned playing top opponents will pay off once league play begins.

There's a yearly debate about the wisdom of scheduling tough nonleague opponents, but the evidence indicates it makes a big difference. Birmingham has won four City titles this decade aided by its grueling nonleague scheduling.

Not that the Patriots aren't a little concerned after being shut out by Encino Crespi and Valencia. Their offensive line has played poorly, and USC-bound receiver De'Von Flournoy has been ineffective because of injuries.

"I think it's going to get worse before it gets better," Birmingham Coach Ed Croson said.

At least Birmingham, Crenshaw, Carson and Jordan are learning their strengths and weaknesses. The other City schools won't find out about their true ability until they face tougher opponents. Narbonne plays Los Alamitos on Oct. 10. Taft plays Gardena Serra on the same day. Dorsey plays Birmingham on Oct. 3. San Pedro plays Carson on Oct. 17. By then, the truth will be revealed, and don't be surprised to see the schools with a losing record in September end up on top in December.

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Here's some urgent advice to football coaches: Start working on your kicking games. The losses are mounting and the embarrassment is spreading by the failure to make an extra point or field goal.

And the blame isn't on kickers alone. Long snappers aren't snapping the ball properly.

It's particularly gruesome in the City Section, but even Concord De La Salle is having trouble with extra points. And Los Angeles Loyola probably lost its game Saturday to De La Salle because of a short field-goal attempt that was returned 75 yards.

There are private coaches who train long snappers and kickers.

Go to chrissailerkicking.com or westcoastkicking.com for emergency help.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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