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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

This matchup has some serious buzz

December 18, 2013|Eric Sondheimer
  • Concord De La Salle running back Maurice Jones-Drew gets past Long Beach Poly defenders during a game played in front of a crowd of 17,321 at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach in 2001.
Concord De La Salle running back Maurice Jones-Drew gets past Long Beach… (Los Angeles Times )

There is growing agreement that Saturday's CIF state championship Open Division bowl game between Bellflower St. John Bosco (15-0) and Concord De La Salle (14-0) at StubHub Center in Carson might be the best high school football matchup in California since De La Salle played Long Beach Poly in 2001 before 17,321 at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.

That game between the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the nation produced the book "One Great Game." Nine players ended up reaching the NFL, including Poly's Marcedes Lewis and De La Salle's Maurice Jones-Drew. De La Salle won, 29-15.

De La Salle first-year Coach Justin Alumbaugh, 34, believes this year's team is one of the strongest "ability-wise" for a program that has won 22 consecutive North Coast Section championships and once had a national-record winning streak of 151 games.

The players on De La Salle's offensive and defensive lines average 273 pounds.

But just how good are the Spartans?

"I'll be able to give you a great answer after Saturday night," Alumbaugh said.

De La Salle or St. John Bosco could go down as one of the best teams ever, depending on which team triumphs.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, December 19, 2013 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 57 words Type of Material: Correction
High school football: In the Dec. 18 Sports section, a photo caption with an article about the upcoming CIF Open Division state championship football game said that the photo showed a touchdown by Concord De La Salle against Long Beach Poly in the 2001 state championship game. The two teams met in a nonconference game that season.

Alumbaugh said of St. John Bosco, "They're really good. They're one of the top teams in the country. They're physical and fast and well-coached. They don't do anything poorly. They do everything well. If there's a better team out there than St. John Bosco, I'd be pretty surprised."

The same could be said of De La Salle, which has a rushing attack no opponent has been able to stop. John Velasco has gained 1,997 yards and scored 28 touchdowns behind another superb offensive line.

Clearly, the linemen will play decisive roles.

"For people who enjoy trench football, that's going to be where the game is won and lost," Alumbaugh said.

TV, Web coverage

Time Warner Cable will be televising all five games this weekend live, with four of the games on its Channel 101. The Division III final at noon Saturday will be on TWC SportsNet.

Each of the games will also be streamed live at www.twcsportschannel .com.

Because the Lakers are playing Saturday night, TWC SportsNet won't be showing the St. John Bosco-De La Salle game. It will be available only on TWC Channel 101.

Proud grandfather

Fifty years ago, Don Swartz was an offensive lineman for Los Angeles Loyola. He was so good that he was named the CIF player of the year in 1963, when the Cubs won the Southern Section "AAAA" championship, 21-0, over Pico Rivera El Rancho at the Coliseum.

On Friday night, Swartz's grandson Patrick Crowley, a starting tackle for Bakersfield High, will return to Southern California to play in the Division I bowl game against Loomis Del Oro.

Swartz went on to become captain of the 1967 Stanford team. Crowley, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior at Bakersfield, also has been accepted to Stanford.

Recruiting scramble

Even though this week is a dead period for college football recruiting, the changing of commitments continues.

Gardena Serra quarterback Jalen Greene switched from Boise State to Washington, where former Boise State coach Chris Petersen is the new coach. Switching from UCLA to Washington was West Hills Chaminade defensive back Jojo McIntosh.

And Loyola lineman Chris Brown committed to USC.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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