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Gardena Serra defeats Oakdale, 42-15, for Division II championship

Marques Rodgers scores on runs of 27, 57 and one yard, and Adoree' Jackson catches passes of 50 and 27 yards and scores on a 78-yard fake punt to lead the Cavaliers to their first bowl win since 2009.

December 16, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

The cupboard is never bare of football talent at Gardena Serra. Coach Scott Altenberg has so many options on whom to call upon it's almost as if he's playing a video game.

Three times Saturday in the first half of the CIF state championship Division II bowl game against Oakdale, he called for Marques Rodgers to get the ball on a handoff. And three times Rodgers scored touchdowns, on runs of 27, 57 and one yard.

But the real fun was just beginning. It was time to turn loose Adoree' Jackson, who caught touchdown passes of 50 and 27 yards, the last score producing an eye-opening video moment when the state champion in the long jump hurdled over a defender into the end zone.

"I didn't want to get tackled," Jackson said. "I thought he was going to hit me, so I jumped up into the air."

There was little doubt from start to finish about the Cavaliers' superiority in a 42-15 victory at the Home Depot Center. It was 35-0 at halftime.

Then Jackson scored on a 78-yard fake punt on fourth and 31 in the third quarter, high-stepping into the end zone in another stunning display of speed, agility and athletic talent.

"He's a phenomenal athlete," Altenberg said. "He has a great spirit. He loves the game. He's the guy having the most fun every time he's out on the field."

It was Serra's first bowl win since 2009, when Robert Woods and Marqise Lee were part of a 15-0 team that won the Division III game.

Woods wooed everyone that day with eight catches for 180 yards in his final high school game before heading to USC. Jackson, a junior, is going to be as highly sought after by college recruiters. His athleticism is similar to Lee, USC's 2013 Heisman Trophy candidate.

Altenberg's toughest question to answer in the coming years will be, "Who's best among Woods, Lee and Jackson?"

"They're all pretty special," he said. "Adoree's got another year, so we're going to reserve judgment."

There's no need to hold back on what Serra (14-2) accomplished. The Cavaliers won their final 10 games, reaching peak form at the most important time of the season. And for the third consecutive game, they made no turnovers.

Junior quarterback Jalen Greene has demonstrated true growth in maturity and ability. He stopped making mistakes, and Serra took off. On Saturday, he rushed for 105 yards and completed seven of 13 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

"It was a lot of film work, a lot of practice. Coach Altenberg has been guiding me," Greene said.

Serra could have an even better team next season with all its returning players, including sophomore linebacker John Houston, who had 17 tackles.

"Same thing, just a new chapter," Greene said.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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