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HIGH SCHOOL NOTEBOOK

After a sleepy 2008, L.A. City Section football teams have a rousing start to '09

Los Angeles Crenshaw delivers the biggest wake-up call, a 28-27 victory over No. 3-ranked Lakewood. Down in Orange County, Carson defeats No. 12 Santa Ana Mater Dei.

September 06, 2009|Ben Bolch

The City never sleeps?

In 2008 it seemed as if Los Angeles City Section football teams not only had an off year but took the year off.

City teams recorded no rousing victories over their Southern Section counterparts. When it came time for the City playoffs, the proceedings were so humdrum that the section couldn't even pick a champion -- San Pedro and Harbor City Narbonne tied for the title.

So it felt as if a 120-decibel alarm went off in the opening week of 2009.

L.A. Crenshaw delivered the biggest wake-up call when it pulled out a 28-27 victory over Lakewood, ranked No. 3 in the Southland by The Times. The Cougars assembled a fourth-quarter rally to knock off one of the Pac-5 Division favorites, and they did it with star running back DeAnthony Thomas sidelined by an ankle injury.

Carson trekked to Orange County and put the squeeze on No. 12 Santa Ana Mater Dei, 14-2. The big plays came from running back Dion Willis, quarterback Justin Alo and receiver Brent Scott, whose 69-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter gave the Colts a two-touchdown lead.

Woodland Hills El Camino Real, long considered an afterthought playing in the shadow of City power Taft, held off longtime Southern Section heavyweight Newhall Hart, 33-28. Kawan Rally ran for three touchdowns in only 10 carries to help the Conquistadors hand Hart its second consecutive season-opening defeat.

There were other intersectional victories worth noting. L.A. Roosevelt defeated Alhambra, 34-20; Westchester blanked Pasadena, 13-0; and L.A. Hamilton edged Lawndale Leuzinger, 21-20.

Carson Coach Mike Christensen said the City's success was especially rewarding because of what he described as "inherent disadvantages" its teams face compared to its Southern Section counterparts. City teams generally have worse facilities, fewer coaching stipends and less booster support.

"It's nice to be able to go out and compete with programs that have a few more resources and to be successful," said Christensen, who spent six years as Lakewood's coach before coming to Carson in 2006. "It's very gratifying for our staff and our kids."

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Life after Barkley

Mater Dei quarterbacks Jack Doll and Max Wittek struggled during the Monarchs' first opening-game loss since Matt Barkley's debut against Orange Lutheran in 2005.

The junior quarterbacks alternated series, with Doll starting the game and Wittek trying to rally Mater Dei in the fourth quarter. Doll completed five of seven passes for 26 yards. Wittek completed four of 10 passes for 42 yards and one critical interception near the Carson goal line late in the game.

"Nobody separated themselves [Friday] night, and we have the preseason to decide who the guy's going to be," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said. "By the time we get three or four games into it, I'd like to have someone that's the No. 1 guy."

Rollinson said sophomore Chase Favreau, sidelined this summer by an arm injury, "is starting to come around" and could push the other quarterbacks for playing time.

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Welcome back

Opening night was packed with emotion for the family of Luke Gane, the two-way senior lineman from Huntington Beach Edison who played his first varsity game after sitting out last season because of aplastic anemia.

"I think my mom was crying. My brothers and my dad were all smiles," said Gane, who learned he had the disorder in July 2008 after emergency room personnel plugged a nose that bled for two hours. Doctors told Gane he could have died from one hit or a lack of oxygen had he resumed practicing.

Gane received a bone marrow transplant last September from brother Jacob, then 10, and doctors last week declared him fully recovered. When he took the field for the Chargers on Friday against Lakewood Artesia, Gane said he felt goose bumps "just seeing the lights and getting that feeling again that it's Friday night and we're about to play football. . . . It was a lot of fun."

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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