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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Top games for Friday, Sept. 4

Lakewood at Los Angeles Crenshaw; Westlake Village Oaks Christian at Mission Hills Alemany; Manhattan Beach Mira Costa vs. Los Angeles Loyola; Ventura St. Bonaventure at Bellflower St. John Bosco

September 04, 2009|Ben Bolch

No. 3 Lakewood at No. 9 Los Angeles Crenshaw, 7 p.m. -- Crenshaw running back DeAnthony Thomas and linebacker Hayes Pullard III seek to give the City Section its first marquee victory over a Southern Section foe since Lake Balboa Birmingham defeated Long Beach Poly and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in 2007. Lakewood will use a running-back-by-committee approach to replace standout Jerry Stone, who faces two counts of attempted murder in connection with an alleged drive-by shooting. Quarterback Jesse Scroggins hopes he doesn't need to wipe out a 14-point halftime deficit as he did last year by passing for three second-half touchdowns during the Lancers' 42-34 victory over Crenshaw. "If we limit their big plays," Lancers Coach Thadd MacNeal said, "that score is going to come down big-time." The pick: Lakewood.

No. 2 Westlake Village Oaks Christian at Mission Hills Alemany, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket -- Alemany Coach Dean Herrington said "it's fun to be the underdog sometimes," but this probably isn't one of them. Oaks Christian has won six consecutive division titles and features a roster brimming with prospects, including Washington-bound quarterback Nick Montana and running back Malcolm Jones. There will also be a Malcolm in the middle of almost everything Alemany does. Oregon State-bound senior Malcolm Marable starts at running back and free safety. "He's probably the most underrated football player in Southern California," Herrington said. The pick: Oaks Christian.

Manhattan Beach Mira Costa vs. No. 14 Los Angeles Loyola at L.A. Valley College, 7 p.m. -- Although Loyola features more star power -- the Cubs have standout running back Anthony Barr and quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, the son of UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel -- Mira Costa has experience. The Mustangs return 10 starters on offense and eight on defense from the team that lost to Quartz Hill in the Western Division championship game. Seniors Adam Lawrence and Kyle Demarco will split time at quarterback for Mira Costa, which lost to Loyola, 23-7, in its opener last year. Rick Neuheisel said he would attend the game to watch his son, a junior who is in his second year at Loyola. The pick: Loyola.

No. 4 Ventura St. Bonaventure at Bellflower St. John Bosco, 7:30 p.m. -- St. John Bosco Coach Kiki Mendoza says his choice of a starting quarterback "could go to 7:29 p.m." Starter Keenan Dryer has a broken thumb. The options to replace him are senior Brandon Gaeta and sophomores Royce Moore and Raymond Medina. Reducing the burden on whoever is passing, running back Austin Mahr, who gained 491 yards last season, should figure even more prominently in the offense this year. St. Bonaventure returns a trio of standouts on offense: running back Devon Blackledge, quarterback Logan Meyer and USC-bound offensive lineman Giovanni DiPoalo. The pick: St. Bonaventure.

-- Ben Bolch

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