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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly go through same process

Traditionally strong programs are trying to rebuild and each finally earns first victory of the season.

September 20, 2009|Ben Bolch

They are two of the most storied high school football programs in Southern California, with a combined 27 Southern Section titles.

Long Beach Poly and Santa Ana Mater Dei were united in a different way through the season's first two weeks: They seemed entrenched in a rebuilding mode.

Mater Dei, seeking stability at quarterback after four-year starter Matt Barkley departed for USC, lost to Carson and narrowly defeated Cypress.

Poly, which returned no starters on defense, had one-sided losses to Anaheim Servite and Ventura St. Bonaventure.

"We were desperate for a win," Poly Coach Raul Lara said.

The Jackrabbits finally got it Friday, defeating Harbor City Narbonne, 28-14. Mater Dei also got a bounce-back win, upsetting Corona Centennial, 31-13.

Mater Dei's defense forced two turnovers and quarterback Max Wittek made the big play on offense, completing a 78-yard touchdown pass to Victor Blackwell that gave the Monarchs a 24-13 lead midway through the third quarter.

"We found a way to eliminate some of the mistakes that had been killing us in the first two games," said Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson, who has settled on Wittek as Barkley's successor.

Poly quarterback Dylan Lagarde passed for two touchdowns and the Jackrabbits' running game got strong performances by Markes Jackson and Michael Simmons offsetting the absence of injured Cory Westbrook.

Even though Poly is the two-time defending Pac-5 Division champion, Lara said the school's administrators understand that things could get bumpy this season with such a young team. Lara said they have joked with him about it.

"Everyone thinks there's this tremendous pressure at Poly," Lara said. "The pressure is me. I expect to win and I get upset when we don't. There might be a couple of people who e-mail me and say I need a new offensive coordinator.

"But what are they going to do? Fire me and take away my $4,000 [coaching stipend]? Whoopee."

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Landmark victory

Bill Redell figures his team has earned a break from the criticism about its schedule.

Westlake Village Oaks Christian held off Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline, 28-25, on Friday for its first marquee nonleague victory since the Lions defeated St. Bonaventure in September 2006.

"I thought that would quiet [the critics] and it did for about two weeks," Redell said of the victory over the Seraphs. "Now we beat a team that is really a good team and they'll probably quiet down for two weeks and start up again."

Sammamish has won consecutive state titles in its division.

It looks as if there's plenty of punch-line fodder for the foreseeable future, though: the Lions' Tri-Valley League opponents are a combined 2-10 and nonleague foe Long Beach Jordan was upset Friday by previously winless Pasadena.

Oaks Christian has an open date this week, giving Redell time to savor his 200th win.

Redell said the milestone triumph might not have been possible without a decision by defensive line coach Mark Shihabi that Redell initially questioned.

With Skyline trying to rally in the final minutes, Shihabi inserted reserve lineman Landon Westrom to get fresh legs on the field. Westrom hit the arm of quarterback Jake Heaps, altering the trajectory of a pass that was intercepted by Max Napolitano to seal the victory.

"That was probably one of the key moves of the game," Redell said.

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End of drought

Two of the longest on-the-field losing streaks in California ended Friday. Pasadena Marshall, which had lost 30 games in a row -- excluding one Alpha League forfeit victory -- defeated Pasadena Poly, 36-24. Glendale Hoover, which had suffered 21 consecutive defeats, beat South Pasadena, 16-13.

Alhambra Keppel has lost 38 consecutive games, the longest active losing streak in the state. The Aztecs' 20-17 loss to San Gabriel Gabrielino on Friday was their narrowest margin of defeat during the streak.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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