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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Playoff rematches present challenges, opportunities

Beating an opponent twice in the same season can be difficult, with major upsets common when titles are on the line. This weekend's semifinals match several teams that have already met this year.

November 29, 2011|Eric Sondheimer
  • Robert Miller heads for the end zone to help Carson defeat Venice in the City Championship game in 2003, avenging a loss from earlier that season.
Robert Miller heads for the end zone to help Carson defeat Venice in the City… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

It's the semifinals of the high school football playoffs and time to remember that defeating a team twice in the same season can be difficult.

Particularly in the City Section, there is precedent for major upsets occurring in rematches.

None was bigger than in 2002, when Birmingham lost to Woodland Hills Taft, 30-6, in West Valley League play, then reversed fortunes in the City Championship game, winning, 35-7.

In 2003, Carson defeated Venice, 30-20, in the City Championship game after losing in the regular season, 34-14. In 2004, Birmingham lost to Taft, 28-21, in the regular season then beat the Toreadors, 41-19, in the quarterfinals.

"Love is always better the second time around," said Carson Coach Elijah Asante, whose team lost to San Pedro, 21-0, in the Marine League and will now try to reverse scores on Friday at San Pedro.

In the Southern Section, there's lots of opportunities for the team that was beaten during the regular season to pull off victories on Friday.

Thousand Oaks has already lost this season to Westlake Village Westlake, 38-6. Ventura St. Bonaventure lost to Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 34-24. Costa Mesa Estancia lost to Irvine Beckman, 12-10. Culver City lost to Santa Monica, 17-14. Tesoro lost to San Clemente, 31-6. All will be involved in rematches.

Are you getting the picture? The coaches of the winning teams during the regular season are going to have to convince their players that a victory earlier in the season doesn't mean the second time around will be easier.

In fact, the psychological edge usually belongs to the team that lost the first time.

Good coaches are able to make adjustments the second time and take advantage of players being a little overconfident.

"With film, you have a chance to fix mistakes you make in the first game," West Hills Hills Chaminade Coach Ed Croson said. "People don't change a lot this time of year, so when you have a couple things you were doing real bad and make them good, it can be a big difference maker."

Chaminade faces Arroyo Grande on Friday after losing to Arroyo Grande, 37-19, last season. Croson knows something about winning the second time. He was the coach at Birmingham in 2002 and 2004.

"It's a chance to right the wrongs," he said.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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