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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Gardena Serra wins Mission League title

Ronnie Vaughn rushes for 246 yards and scores two touchdowns, and Jalen Greene rushes for 122 yards and one touchdown and passes for another to help the Cavaliers upset West Hills Chaminade, 35-29.

November 11, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

Gardena Serra players tried to celebrate Friday night after an improbable 35-29 upset victory over West Hills Chaminade to claim the Mission League title.

Guess what happened?

"They tried to dump me with water, tripped and dumped it on themselves," Coach Scott Altenberg said. "That's us in a nutshell."

Yes, it wasn't pretty. Serra had nine fumbles caused by bad snaps or dropped balls. There were penalties and chaotic moments that left their fans in a frenzy and their coaches scrambling. But in the end, a team that had to replace 18 starters and didn't have their best running back because of an injury found a way to beat the No. 1-ranked team in the Western Division.

Senior Ronnie Vaughn, one of the few veterans on a team filled with sophomores and juniors, rushed for 246 yards and scored two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Greene rushed for 122 yards and one touchdown and passed for another touchdown.

Serra (8-2) held a 20-8 halftime lead, but Chaminade (8-2) took a 22-20 lead after touchdown runs of five and 47 yards by Terrell Newby, who finished with 150 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Then Greene's three-yard touchdown run with 8:17 left and a 23-yard touchdown run by Vaughn with 5:57 left gave the Cavaliers a 35-22 lead.

Back came Chaminade, getting a 66-yard touchdown pass from Logan Scott to Kevin Lewallyn. The Eagles recovered an onside kick. Serra held.

Chaminade got the ball back for one final drive with 1:18 left. A 34-yard pass to Elijah Dunston put the ball on Serra's 38. But time ran out following an incomplete pass in the end zone.

"Who would have thought it?" assistant coaches screamed after the realization the Cavaliers had won the Mission title without Conner Preston, George Farmer and Marqise Lee, all of whom are now college football players.

"It means all the hard work in practice paid off," said Greene, who began the year with no varsity experience but ended the regular season firmly in control of the offense.

Altenberg made it all happen despite many uncertain moments.

"We were down to our third center," he said. "We were down to our second running back. We haven't had the same offensive line in any game. It's exciting. We've been able to make plays and persevere."

Afterward, Tavita Tua'au, Serra's giant 6-foot-5, 348-pound offensive lineman, was trying to explain what had happened in the missed dumping episode involving his coach.

"Look at me, I'm all wet," he said.

Serra isn't perfect, but it is the Mission League champion for another year.

Lucky Bishop Amat

La Puente Bishop Amat won a coin flip to be the third-place representative from the Serra League after Encino Crespi, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and the Lancers tied for third place.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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