Bellflower St. John Bosco's Jaleel Wadood has caught 68 passes for… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
It's football championship week in the Southern Section, and one player who has separated himself as special is Jaleel Wadood, a senior receiver and defensive back for top-ranked Bellflower St. John Bosco.
As a receiver, Wadood has 68 receptions for 1,123 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a safety, he has 115 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks. He's down to UCLA or USC as his college choices.
"He's been the pin that's kept us together," Coach Jason Negro said.
St. John Bosco (13-0) plays Santa Ana Mater Dei (11-2) for the Pac-5 championship Saturday at 8 p.m. at Angel Stadium and will be broadcast live on Prime Ticket. The Braves have never won a section title in football.
"We're relaxed and calm," Wadood said. "We just go out and play football. Not just for the wins or the rankings. We play for us."
For the fourth consecutive year, Corona Centennial (11-2) and Vista Murrieta (12-1) are set to play for the Inland Division championship at Centennial on Friday.
"It's a testament to both programs how hard we've worked and how much success we've had to play each other for a fourth time," Centennial Coach Matt Logan said.
Centennial has a 2-1 advantage and is coming off a semifinal game in which it amassed a national-record 946 yards during an 86-56 victory over Upland.
"It was a crazy night," said running back Tre Watson, who rushed for 519 yards and scored six touchdowns.
Vista Murrieta has a standout in Curtis Bolton, a linebacker and defensive end who has 13 sacks among his 96 tackles.
"In order to win this game the defense has to make some stops," Vista Murrieta Coach Coley Candaele said. "The team that wins is the defense that shows up and plays."
Looking for sacks
On Nov. 1, Valencia recorded nine sacks in a 24-19 Foothill League victory over Newhall Hart. The teams meet again Friday at Valencia in the Northern Division championship game.
"It's like 'Groundhog Day,'" Valencia Coach Larry Muir said.
Muir is hoping for more sacks against quarterback Brady White. Jourdan Nguyen has 17 sacks for the Vikings, five against Hart.
"We can't let that happen again," Hart Coach Mike Herrington said. "He's quick off the ball and has good strength."
Looking for help
Gardena Serra Coach Scott Altenberg probably won't know until game time whether standout two-way threat Adoree' Jackson will be able to play in the Western Division final against West Hills Chaminade.
Jackson, who had his left ankle in a walking boot Monday, insists he'll be ready.