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Gardena Serra rolls past Arroyo Grande, 35-10, for second straight title

Serra's Shaquille Richard runs for 162 yards and quarterback Conner Preston, after struggling early, throws for four touchdowns.

December 10, 2010|By Ben Bolch

Arroyo Grande limited the touches of Gardena Serra's star receivers by dropping extra defenders into pass coverage.

Stopping Shaquille Richard proved to be more problematic.

The tailback rushed for 162 yards in 25 carries to propel the top-seeded Cavaliers to a 35-10 victory over the visiting Eagles on Friday night in the Western Division championship.

Richard's steady running carried Serra (14-0) to a second consecutive section title and probably put the Cavaliers in position to extend their 29-game winning streak next week in a state championship bowl game. Bowl invitations will be extended Sunday.

"It's a great feeling," Serra senior receiver George Farmer said of winning another title on the same day he committed to USC. "It's very overwhelming."

Cavaliers quarterback Conner Preston shrugged off a slow start in which he struggled to adapt to the crowded secondary by completing nine of 20 passes for 155 yards and four touchdowns. Heralded receivers Marqise Lee and Farmer caught only five passes combined, but four were for touchdowns.

"I had a chip on my shoulder," said Lee, who caught three passes for 49 yards and three scores. "Last year, I wanted to play receiver and I was stuck at safety and we had good receivers. But this year I knew I could come in and do something."

Farmer caught two passes for 64 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown late in the first quarter that gave Serra a 14-3 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Pete Lauderdale recovered a fumble and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown that put the Cavaliers comfortably ahead.

Farmer took one look at the Eagles' defensive scheme early in the game and predicted great things for his running back.

"I told [Richard], 'If they do that, you're going to have a big game,'" Farmer said. "'Keep pushing up the middle and run hard.'"

Richard gained 110 yards in the first two quarters, helping the Cavaliers take a 28-3 halftime lead.

"I'm underrated," said the 5-foot-10, 183-pound senior, whose only scholarship offer is from Cal Poly. "Everybody says I'm not an every-down back, but I can prove them wrong."

Arroyo Grande (11-3) managed only two first downs in the first half, and one came by penalty. The Eagles got a 51-yard field goal from Garrett Owens in the first quarter after taking over at the Serra 37-yard line and moving the ball all of four yards.

Arroyo Grande quarterback Brent Vanderveen, who misfired on his first five passes, finally made some headway in the fourth quarter when he connected with Owens on a 23-yard touchdown pass, but by then the outcome had been decided.

The most dramatic moment might have come shortly before the game, when Farmer ended months of speculation by calling USC Coach Lane Kiffin to tell him he was committing to the Trojans.

"I'm coming in to win national championships," said Farmer, one of the most coveted recruits in the country. "We've got a lot of talent there, a lot of five-star athletes. We're coming and we're going to do our thing and hopefully the sanctions won't mess us up."

Farmer will be reunited with USC receiver Robert Woods, who paired with Farmer last season to help the Cavaliers win a state title.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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