Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Prep Report: It's Crenshaw and...everybody else in the City playoff race

Crenshaw_HS_Football
CRUNCHED: Dorsey's Cleshawn Page felt the brunt of one of many hits delivered by the Crenshaw defense during their rivalry game last week. The Cougars held Dorsey to minus-45 yards in their 44-7 victory. (Jason Lewis for Sentinel)

 By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Sports Editor

If the gap between Crenshaw and the rest of the City Section wasn't wide enough, last week against Dorsey made it wide enough.

Crenshaw not only dominated their rivals on both sides of the ball, they sent a message to the rest of the City Section that the City title is theirs to lose.

The 44-7 victory was a statement that the road to the Coliseum will go through the Cougars, a test that perhaps few teams in the state could even master.

The last two City champions, Birmingham and last year's co-champion San Pedro, both had stellar defenses they rode to the Coliseum. Crenshaw is no different.

Watching them against Dorsey, they were intense from start to finish. They hit hard, they hit fast and they don't stop coming until the final whistle.

Hayes Pullard and Ronald Stovall are two of the best linebackers in the area, matching power, speed and awareness to create havoc on any ball carrier or quarterback.

Afterwards they were more disappointed they didn't get the shutout, although the lone score by Dorsey came on special teams.

"We like to get doughnuts," Stovall said, referring to a shutout.

The Cougars have only given up three offensive touchdowns in the last five games, going back to Culver City on October 2. That doesn't bode well for 3-5 Jefferson Friday, who were shut out 50-0 by Dorsey on October 16.

Defense usually wins City championships and that's what impressed me the most about Crenshaw's victory. If they play motivated in the City playoffs, it could parallel the dominance Birmingham showed two years ago...

Looking ahead to my predictions for the City playoff seedings, which will be announced on Saturday, here's where the rest of the teams lie.

Carson (No. 2) - The Colts secured it by beating Narbonne last week and should they get by San Pedro, no easy task, it's just as a formality as Crenshaw being No.1.

Venice (No. 3) - The Gondoliers have flown under the radar all season and have played a fairly light schedule. But their only loss to Oaks Christian could impact their ranking.

They hung with Lions for three quarters before Malcolm Jones did his damage. That should play a role in the Gondoliers being ahead of anybody else.

Narbonne (No. 4) - Someone has to move up with Taft's loss to Birmingham and I say it's the defending Co-city champions.

They lost to playoff teams Mira Costa and Los Alamitos (three if Long Beach Poly sneaks in). Both losses to Mira Costa and Carson were narrow.

But no team improved more from preseason to league play than the Gauchos. And no team is more unpredictable on the field. They could reach the semifinals based on talent but tendencies to be lackadaisical could make them a second-round upset.

Taft (No. 5) - The Toreadors will still win the West Valley League, but their loss to Birmingham is a cause for concern.

Yes, they have a 1-2 duo in DJ Morgan and Lucky Radley. But if their usually solid defense had a bad night against a team that snuck into the playoffs, what will happen in the second round?

Finally, I slide Dorsey in as No. 6. They have a lot of questions to answer after this loss to Crenshaw but at 7-2, they are still a good team in the City.

They are perhaps the wildcard in that they have great speed but no consistent playmakers. Can they pass the ball effectively? Can their line protect their three quarterbacks?

Both of those questions will determine how far they can. On paper, they can match with any team besides Crenshaw and maybe Carson. But on the field is where it counts.

We'll see how the City seeding committee plays out but once they do, check back next week for analysis on first-second round matchups.

Category: High School


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