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Narbonne rolls to City title

The latest conquest for the unbeaten Gauchos is a powerful Crenshaw team at East L.A. College.

December 01, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

Best City Section football team of the 21st century.

That might be the legacy of the unbeaten Narbonne Gauchos as they continue their march to perfection.

Their latest conquest was a powerful Crenshaw team in Saturday night's rainy City Section Division I championship game at East Los Angeles College.

The Gauchos (14-0) relied on their smothering defense and the running of Johnell Jackson to come away with a 25-0 victory for their second consecutive City championship.

Since August, Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas has had his team practicing for a 16-game season, and so far, so good. On Sunday, the Gauchos will learn their opponent for next week's CIF regional bowl game with the goal of reaching the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game on Dec. 15 at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Narbonne's defense has stuffed Western Division champion Gardena Serra and Pac-5 finalists Long Beach Poly and Santa Ana Mater Dei, so it was no surprise that Crenshaw (12-2) became the latest top team to struggle trying to move the ball.

Interceptions by Keishawn Bierria and Robert Wood helped Narbonne emerge with a 10-0 halftime lead. Bierria's interception at the Crenshaw 30 paved the way for a one-yard touchdown run by Tony Gates in the first quarter.

Wood's interception sent Narbonne on a drive from its own 35 to the Crenshaw four, where Douglas decided to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Cesar Montiel.

Crenshaw scored 59, 56 and 38 points in his three playoff victories, but the Gauchos play defense as if they are a college team. The line, led by Paulo Lepua, applies pressure to the quarterback.

The quick linebackers run from sideline to sideline preventing big plays, led by the highly recruited Bierria. And aggressive defensive backs are in constant attack mode.

Crenshaw was driving at the outset of the third quarter, but a fumble on the Narbonne 17 was the turnover that most hurt the Cougars.

Soon, Jackson was breaking loose in the rain for a 57-yard touchdown run and a 17-0 lead with 8:11 left in the third quarter. Jackson finished with 159 yards rushing in 26 carries.

Narbonne receiver Greg Clark made five catches for 82 yards.

Crenshaw quarterback Ajene Harris faced repeated challenges from Narbonne's defense. He scrambled and tried to find receivers but the Gauchos wouldn't budge.

Narbonne was playing very conservatively on offense, not wanting to risk turnovers in the wet conditions while showing great confidence in its defense.

Narbonne ranks right with the Lake Balboa Birmingham championship team of 2007, led by Milton Knox, and Crenshaw's championship team of 2009, led by De'Anthony Thomas. Soon, we'll see if the Gauchos can become the first to win a bowl game.

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