Jalen Moore knows that his body is going to be aching Saturday morning.
"I'm going to be very sore," the La Puente Bishop Amat junior running back said after carrying the ball 32 times for 263 yards and two touchdowns to help the Lancers pull out a 31-28 victory over Encino Crespi in a Serra League opener.
Serra League madness is here and flourishing. In Sherman Oaks, Notre Dame got a 35-yard field goal from Hayden Ross as time expired to defeat Los Angeles Loyola, 21-18.
This is how every week for the rest of the season figures to be in a league where the coaching is terrific and the teams are evenly matched.
Crespi (5-2) rallied from a 17-7 halftime deficit behind quarterback Kenny Stenhouse, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Terrence Williams scored on a four-yard run and Stenhouse's one-yard plunge gave the Celts a 21-17 lead in the third quarter.
But the fourth quarter was all about Moore running behind a punishing offensive line. He scored twice on four-yard runs. It was his sixth consecutive game of 100 or more yards rushing.
"The offensive line bailed us out," Coach Steve Hagerty said. "They pushed up front."
Said offensive tackle Christian Orduno: "It was a fight. I was trying to be a leader and tell them, 'We've got to step it up.'"
Crespi got a big performance from receiver Christian Harper, who caught 10 passes for 133 yards, including a five-yard touchdown reception with 1:55 left. But the Lancers covered the onside kick and ran out the clock by giving the ball again and again to Moore.
Bishop Amat (7-0) lost its top speed back, Zachary Shay, to an ankle injury on the fourth play of the game, forcing Moore to test his endurance. And he responded with 172 yards rushing in the second half, breaking off runs of 51, 33 and 27 yards. He has 1,019 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.
Bishop Amat opened a 17-7 halftime lead. Crespi lost the ball on a fumble on Bishop Amat's nine-yard line and Orduno had a blocked punt to set up a one-yard touchdown plunge by quarterback Rio Ruiz, whose versatility, combined with a couple clutch catches, was important to the Lancers' success.
Ruiz passed 27 yards to 6-foot-5 tight end Wallace Gonzalez for a touchdown. He also completed a 44-yard pass to a diving Adam Sanchez. And Ruiz broke off runs of 10 and eight yards to loosen up Crespi's defense.
Bishop Amat's defense was designed to neutralize Devin Lucien, who came in with 12 touchdown receptions. But Lucien started to get open at the end of the first half and caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Stenhouse.
At minimum, everyone should celebrate the sight of quarterbacks who are two-sport standouts. Stenhouse plays basketball. Ruiz is a shortstop who even plays scout ball on Sundays. They're enjoying their high school experience and not believing the talk that you have to be focused on one sport year-round to excel.
And they know how to use their athleticism. Stenhouse had a 64-yard punt. Ruiz's speed on the option play adds another dimension to the Lancers' offense.
But when the Lancers searched for a go-to player, Moore stepped forward, aided by the offensive line.