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Chaminade Goes for Crowning Touch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry   
Thursday, 29 November 2012 03:30

Eagles Seek First Ever Southern Section Title But Serra Stands In The Way

MIKE TERRY/SFVS

Trying To Make History - (l-r) Elijah Dunston, Cory Harris and Eli Sibrian are hoping to be part of the first Chaminade team to win a Southern Section football championship. The Eagles will play Gardena Serra for the Western Division title on Friday, Nov. 30.

There's an event this weekend that could end 60 years of waiting. That's how long Chaminade has been trying to win a Southern Section football championship. On Friday, Nov. 30, the Eagles get their chance.

They will play Mission League rival Gardena Serra for the Western Division title. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m., at Serra High. It will also be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.

This is the second Chaminade team to get this far. In 1987 the Eagles reached the Desert- Mountain Conference championship game, but lost to Irvine Woodbridge.

Although their "job," per se, isn't finished, the Eagles, who won the Mission League, are taking pride in what they have done in 2012 "It's definitely a great accomplishment, knowing that there's so many people ahead of us who tried and, ultimately, failed," said wide receiver Elijah Dunston, 17, a senior. "But it's knowing that, to make it this far, all the hard work we put in was actually worth it. That makes me really happy."

"In your senior year you want to go far and win a ring," adds running back and defensive end Cory Harris, 17, a senior. "So we said we have to get everybody on track, play like a family. So it was easier lifting and practicing. And during the season, by the second game, we said we can actually do this."

Chaminade's only defeat this season was Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 44-30, back on Sept.14. They have won nine in a row since that game, and have been pounding teams most of the season, scoring an average of 48.8 points a game. In the playoffs, the Eagles (12-1) had no trouble blowing past Oxnard Pacifica, Morro Bay and Los Angeles Cathedral to reach Friday's game.

Coach Ed Croson is in his fourth year at Chaminade, and appears to have the Eagles on the same ascent as his teams at Birmingham, which won four Los Angeles City Division I championships during his tenure. The Eagles were 7-5 in his first season, but 11-2 in 2010 and 10-3 in 2011. In those seasons, the Eagles reached the semifinals, but lost both times to Arroyo Grande. Chaminade also reached the semifinals in 2006 under then coach Ben McEnroe, but lost to Compton Dominguez.

Croson is not yet ready to rank this Eagles team with the best of his Patriot teams. "I can say they have gotten better every week," he said of Chaminade. "We're playing really good defense, which in the playoffs is key. It's hard to look back to say they're on par with those (championship) Birmingham teams. They have scored more points than some of those Birmingham teams against some pretty tough competition. But we're still in the middle of it. And I'm not a prognosticator."

But Serra Coach Scott Altenberg, now in his 14th season, had plenty of praise for his Chaminade counterpart, and his team.

"He's [Croson] an amazing coach," Altenberg said. "They have a lot of talent. The Chaminade teams I remember didn't look like this. So he's done a great job. They compete; they do a lot of great things. It's a great rivalry brewing between us; I love it."

Serra (11-2) had only one league loss, to Chaminade. The other defeat this season was to undefeated Harbor City Narbonne, arguably the best team in Southern California. And the Cavaliers already have three section football championships on their resume – 1989, 2009 and 2010.

So there may be something to their remarks about not showing Chaminade enough respect when the teams met back on Oct. 5, a game Chaminade won 28-20.

"I don't think our kids appreciated how good they were going into the last game," Altenberg said. "And going up two scores early, I think kids thought 'well, it's another win for us.' And they didn't realize there were a couple of things that could have happened there that would have made things different at that point. And then they roared back. That's the deal with them.

"That won't happen this week. The kids fully appreciate how good the Chaminade Eagles are."

The Cavalier players were in total agreement. "And I think our schemes at the time didn't work," said lineman Inoke Raikadroka, 17, a senior, talking about the first game. "There was a lot of arguing going on; we weren't expecting what Chaminade came out with. I think we underestimated them. That won't be a problem Friday night."

"It was a lack of focus on our part," noted linebacker Ardis Perez, 17, a senior. "Our offense kept turning over the ball; we couldn't stay focused together. We were falling apart all over the place. We just lost the game."

If Altenberg had any concerns that his team was missing swagger going into the playoffs, those questions have been resoundingly answered. Serra quickly dismissed Oxnard and Santa Monica, and then last week stunned top seed Lompoc in the semifinals.

And the Cavaliers are eager for another shot at the Eagles. "I knew we'd see them again," said quarterback Jalen Greene, 16, a junior. "I know people thought we'd lose to Lompoc, but we made sure that wasn't going to happen."

"I knew [Chaminade was] a great team that had a chance to go all the way to the CIF championship game," adds wide receiver Adoreé Jackson, 17, a senior. "And I felt we were going to make it too, because I had faith in my team. Even though we lost two games, I felt my team was a different team from the one that lost those two games. I knew we would be better."

For their part, the Chaminade players are staying humble about Friday's rematch. "We definitely recognize we beat them before," said lineman Eli Sibrian, 18, a senior. "But as a team we realize that's in the past now, something we'll look back when the season's over. We're looking forward now and we're focused on them. We're a high school team like they're a high school team, and anything can happen on a given Friday." And yet, Harris can't wait to experience the feeling that winning on Friday will bring.

"This is Chaminade history," he said. "I think this is the year we can actually win CIF and win a ring. So it's really emotional, especially with the seniors.

"We know we have to go hard every practice, get everybody on track, and also do our jobs during the game and not worry about someone else's job."

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Last Updated on Thursday, 29 November 2012 04:26