Chaminae kicker Ben Kreitenberg. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles…)
When West Hills Chaminade High kicker Ben Kreitenberg booted a 27-yard game-winning field goal Friday night as time expired to hand Gardena Serra its first defeat, 38-35, in the Western Division final, he didn't even see the ball go through the uprights.
"Oh my gosh, it was insane," Kreitenberg said. "I was face-first on the ground tackled by Bar Milo."
Milo is Chaminde's 280-pound offensive tackle who had promised Kreitenberg, "If you ever make a game-winning field goal, I'm going to tackle you."
The celebration pile grew larger and larger, with Kreitenberg on the bottom.
"First it was fun," Kreitenberg said. "Then it got a little much. I screamed at everyone to get off."
How Chaminade could reverse a 36-0 loss to Serra in Mission League play comes as no surprise to those who have followed the career of Coach Ed Croson, who has won three section championship games after losing the first meeting to an opponent during the regular season.
For months, Chaminade knew it would play Serra twice this season.
"We talked about making up 36 points," quarterback Brad Kaaya said. "We had plays we saved for five weeks. A lot of our run plays we saved all year long. We saved pass plays."
Chaminade also turned loose its Canadian import, 6-foot-5 receiver Brayden Lenius, who became eligible in October after sitting out the first month because of transfer rules. He caught six passes for 131 yards. He got one reception against Serra's Adoree' Jackson and caused two pass-interference penalties.
Croson said he thought Kaaya, who passed for 298 yards and one touchdown, was "the best player on the field."
It was Kaaya who called a timeout on Chaminade's final drive after recognizing a pending all-out Serra blitz.
"He made a difference," Croson said.
Chaminade will find out Sunday about its likely selection to a CIF state championship regional bowl game.
If it's December, it means football openings are coming fast and furious.
There are job openings at Long Beach Poly, Santa Margarita, Calabasas, Oak Park, La Cañada, Brentwood, Leuzinger, Anaheim Canyon, Golden Valley, Lynwood, Inglewood and Hacienda Heights Wilson, among others.