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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Serra beats Carson in physical matchup

Preston throws three touchdown passes, two to Richardson on acrobatic plays, in a 27-17 victory.

September 19, 2009|ERIC SONDHEIMER

There are so many prolific offensive weapons for Gardena Serra quarterback Conner Preston to work with that Coach Scott Altenberg has to warn him to stop trying to produce a touchdown on every play.

"It's not going to happen," Altenberg tells Preston and Serra fans.

That doesn't mean the Cavaliers can't put together offensive highlights worthy of a "SportsCenter" viewing, such as Friday night, when Paul Richardson Jr. made two acrobatic catches for touchdowns, Domonique McGee broke off a 62-yard touchdown run and Preston displayed a level of toughness critical for a championship run.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, September 20, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
High school football: An article and headline in Saturday's Sports section about Gardena Serra's victory over Carson said that Serra was ranked No. 9 by The Times. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 10.

It all came together in a 27-17 victory over No. 18-ranked Carson in a game that was physical, hard fought and full of fast, versatile athletes.

Serra (3-0), ranked No. 9, will benefit greatly from being tested by a Carson team that seems to be the only opponent standing in the way of Los Angeles Crenshaw's winning a City Division I championship and going 14-0.

The Colts held a 10-7 lead at halftime over Serra because their defense aggressively went after Preston, sacking him three times and ending up with two interceptions.

But Preston, a junior who transferred from Palisades High, showed what a good quarterback does. He led by example, getting off the ground and finishing with 14 completions in 23 attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns.

"My dad was in the military," Preston said. "I believe in the philosophy you have to lead from the front. I picked myself up and kept telling myself, 'No pain.' "

Serra took the ball at the outset of the third quarter and scored on its opening possession, with Preston passing 33 yards to Richardson for a touchdown on a ball that was deflected but caught in the end zone.

Carson regained the lead at 17-13 when a fumble by running back Dion Willis was recovered in the end zone.

But the fourth lead change was the last, with George Farmer catching an 18-yard touchdown pass from Preston with 2:50 left in the third quarter for a 20-17 Serra lead. Then McGee's long run proved to be the clincher. McGee finished with 135 yards rushing.

"I'm telling you, I have nothing but total respect for Carson's program," Altenberg said.

The Colts were able to match up at times with Serra's terrific collection of receivers. But Carson's offense had trouble moving the ball and failed to protect quarterback Junior Alo.

One of the great stories for Carson was kicker Juan Sanchez. He was part of last season's triple-overtime loss to Santa Ana Mater Dei on television in which he missed two field goals in the second overtime and missed several conversion kicks.

He's much better, having kicked a 46-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter Friday.

Richardson's 26-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive was a catch out of this world. He simply dove and somehow caught the ball.

Watching in the first half was UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel, who took a helicopter to the game and was supposed to visit several other high schools on a whirl-wind recruiting night.

He'd probably take three of Serra's receivers -- Richardson, George Farmer and Robert Woods. Farmer, however, is a junior, and Woods is committed to USC.

But Altenberg, a UCLA graduate, is still working on Woods.

"February is a long while away," Altenberg said.

--

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latsondheimer

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