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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Crenshaw's football team inspires with passion, determination

The Cougars defeated Westlake Village Oaks Christian, the No. 2-ranked team in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division, on Friday night and improved to 4-1. Crenshaw fields only 30 players.

September 23, 2012|Eric Sondheimer
  • Crenshaw upset Westlake Village Oaks Christian, the No. 2-ranked team in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division, 13-2 Friday.
Crenshaw upset Westlake Village Oaks Christian, the No. 2-ranked team… (Rob Helfman )

If you want inspiration, go watch the Los Angeles Crenshaw High football team. They're 30 players strong and keep showing what happens when a group of determined, passionate teenagers give their all for 48 minutes.

"They understand it doesn't take an army to play football," Coach Robert Garrett said.

On Saturday morning, Garrett was groggy and a little tired but never prouder of a team in discussing the Cougars' 13-2 victory over Westlake Village Oaks Christian, the No. 2-ranked team in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division.

"They never say no. They never quit," Garrett said.

Crenshaw had five interceptions, two each by Mossi Johnson and Dominique Hatfield, a pair of senior defensive backs who Garrett insisted deserve NCAA Division I scholarships. The defensive line also played a major role in pressuring Oaks Christian quarterback Brandon Dawkins. Leading the way were Birdel Hodge, Brian Irving, Kenneth Davis and Dillon Chaney.

Crenshaw is 4-1 after a nonleague schedule that featured the Cougars defeating Corona Santiago, Norco and Fresno Edison while losing on a last-second field goal to Westlake Village Westlake.

Lots of players never leave the field. They get bumps, bruises, aches and pains but keep going. Garrett called Friday's win his "most satisfying" because of the opponent and the effort of his players.

Even Harbor City Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas was celebrating when he heard of the Cougars' victory, because it gives respect to the City Section.

"That's awesome for us all," Douglas said. "In the City, we are good coaches, too, despite all the buffoonery that LAUSD forces us into."

Mater Dei vs. Narbonne

Next weekend is Carmageddon II with the 53-hour closing of a portion of the San Diego Freeway, but there will be plenty of access to Narbonne High, where the unbeaten Gauchos (4-0) will play host to unbeaten Santa Ana Mater Dei (4-0) in a Friday night game with bowl implications.

Narbonne already has beaten Long Beach Poly and Gardena Serra, two proud, tradition-rich programs. A win over Mater Dei would put the Gauchos in ideal position to make a run at a CIF state championship bowl berth.

"We treat every game like it is a playoff game," linebacker Keishawn Bierria said after the Gauchos' 22-9 victory over Serra. "This game is as big as the Poly game, and the next game is as big as this game. It'll be another tough game, I'm sure, but that is what we want."

600 yards passing

The numbers being produced by senior quarterback Conner Manning of Lake Forest El Toro are staggering. In five games, he has passed for 2,242 yards and 24 touchdowns with one interception.

On Friday night, during a 77-46 victory over El Cajon Valhalla, the Utah-bound Manning completed 44 of 58 passes for 600 yards and seven touchdowns.

"We were having so much fun offensively," Manning said. "It was one of those games where it was backyard football. We were going back and forth throwing bombs. It was awesome."

Manning's receivers aren't too bad themselves. Cody White caught 11 passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns. Dominic Collins caught 17 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns.

South Gate injury

South Gate improved to 5-0 on Friday but lost quarterback Eddie Flores for six weeks because of a broken wrist. He had thrown 14 touchdown passes.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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