Talking smack about City Section football is a yearly ritual. The blabber goes on and on about players lacking discipline, teams not having enough depth, offensive lines with no size, offenses that can't complete a pass. . . .
On this day, however, thanks to what Los Angeles Crenshaw has accomplished in its first five games, there should be nothing but silence and respect from the critics.
Taking up the challenge of not only trying win a City title but also making it to a state CIF bowl game, the Cougars put five quality Southern Section teams on their nonleague schedule, and after a 5-0 start, all anyone should be saying is, "Wow!"
Down went Lakewood, Norco, Fontana Miller, Riverside North and on Friday night, Culver City, 48-7.
How stunning is it for a City team to beat five legitimate Southern Section teams in the same season?
It just doesn't happen.
"It's been a great challenge for our team," Coach Robert Garrett said.
Culver City came in 3-0 and having scored 49, 42 and 42 points. Their quarterback, Marquel Carter, had nine touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns. But the Cougars, ranked No. 1 by The Times, got four touchdown receptions from Geno Hall and 191 yards passing from Marquis Thompson and were never threatened.
Crenshaw now controls its own destiny. It needs no help to reach the Home Depot Center in December. All it has to do is finish 14-0, and Crenshaw will become the first City team to participate in a bowl game, whether that's Division II or the open division.
The Cougars' schedule is too good and the team has too much talent to be denied if they become bowl-eligible.
Offensively, Crenshaw's potential is scary good. Even though Hall caught touchdown passes of 15, 19, 14 and 34 yards, he also dropped two passes that could have led to more points. And the Cougars hardly used the dangerous DeAnthony Thomas, who said he's only "75% healthy" from a high ankle sprained suffered in the first game against Lakewood. He sure looked fast on a 46-yard touchdown run Friday.
Geoffrey Norwood more than filled in for Thomas as the main ballcarrier, rushing for 72 yards.
These players know what they achieved beating five consecutive Southern Section teams.
"It feels good," Hall said. "We have a chance to go to state and to City, and they were one of the roadblocks to get there."
Said Thomas: "The key is discipline. People think City schools aren't as disciplined. We showed them we can be disciplined."
But Crenshaw players aren't about to start sticking out their chests quite yet. They know there's tough tests ahead in the City Section, starting with a Nov. 6 Coliseum League showdown with Dorsey.
"We have to stay humble and not get too arrogant," said All-City linebacker Hayes Pullard.
Pullard was racing from Culver City on Friday night to get to the airport to catch an 11:50 p.m. flight on the way to South Bend, Ind., for a recruiting trip to Notre Dame.
He rushed for 62 yards and continues to be a leader.
Garrett knows his team has an opportunity of a lifetime if it continues to focus.
"We're making a nudge at getting better every day," Garrett said.