With a mostly young but experienced team and losing a top running back in Anterio Bateman, Serra High’s football team had its backs in the wall.
All of that only got the Cavaliers fired up for the playoffs as they are peaking at a perfect time.
In the first ever Southern California Regional Division II Championship Bowl Game last Saturday at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Serra spotted Huntington Beach Edison an early 10-0 lead and scored 27 unanwered points for a 27-10 victory.
The Cavaliers improved to 13-2 and will advance to the California State Division II Championship Bowl Game against Northern California champion Oakdale Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
The Mustangs are coming off their Northern California Division II Championship Bowl victory over Clayton Valley Charter High from Concord, 27-24, Saturday at Lincoln High in Modesto.
The traditional powerful Chargers started off well taking a 10-point lead early in the second quarter behind a first quarter touchdown run by quarterback Akesander Torgersen and a 27-yard field goal from Hunter Kelley.
From there, Serra dominated, especially on defense. The Cavaliers forced three turnovers on Edison and held the Chargers to just 33 total yards and three first downs on offense in the second half.
The Cavaliers all but cinched the contest in the fourth quarter when linebacker Malachi Mageo intercepted a pass and returned the ball 40 yards for a touchdown that gave Serra a 24-10 lead.
Kicker Ryan Dobson, later, added a 22-yard field goal for the final score.
“Edison had a solid football team,” Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said. “They have a great coaching staff. It was a great and exciting win for us. We had to play our game. In the second half, we came out and shut them out.”
On offense, quarterback Jalen Greene made the clutch plays with his arm and legs. Late in the second period, he connected with wide receiver Gregory Webb for a 13-yard TD to cut the Chargers’ lead to 10-7. Edison continued to lead by a field goal at halftime.
The third quarter saw Serra take the lead for good on Greene’s 4-yard scoring run.
The Cavaliers pulled away in the final period, starting with a short 19-yard field goal from Dobson.
Mageo’s defensive touchdown and Dobson’s field goal put the contest away for Serra.
Greene passed for just 71 yards but completed nine of 12 passes, one of those for a touchdown.
He rushed for 100 yards and one TD on 14 carries.
Sophomore running back Malik Roberson continued to shine, rushing for 80 yards on nine carries.
When Serra takes on Oakdale from the Modesto area, it will take on a squad led by senior quarterback Spencer Thomas who passed for four TD’s in its win over Clayton Valley.
The Mustangs also like to use the Wing T offense, also enabling them to run the ball, a lot.
“They (Oakdale) run an offense that we don’t see a lot,” Altenberg said. “But we had to deal with those challenges, before.”It
It was the third time in four seasons that the Cavaliers play in the state bowl championship. They won the Division III title over Kentfield Marin Catholic, 24-20, in 2009 and lost the Division II crown to Folsom, 48-20, a year later.
Last season, the young and inexperienced Serra squad was upset in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs by Culver City, 21-14. The Cavaliers, who won the Mission League that season, were the top seed.
This season, Serra finished second behind West Hills Chaminade in Mission play but avenged its 28-20 defeat to the Eagles with a 30-28 win in the Western Division championship game on Dec. 1 at Serra.
Narbonne rallies, then falls: Narbonne High’s football team, twice, trailed by three touchdowns, then came back and rallied for a 34-34 tie, only to see Corona Centennial push in a touchdown with 22 seconds left in the game and come out with a 41-34 victory in the Southern California Open Division Championship Bowl Game last Saturday at Cerritos College.
The Gauchos trailed 20-0 in the second quarter and 27-8 at halftime, but inched closer by outscoring the Huskies, 14-0, in the third period to cut Centennial’s lead to 27-22. Prior to the rally, Narbonne, which finished its season at 14-1, quarterback Troy Williams was intercepted by Husky defensive back John Plattenberg.
Centennial (14-1) drove to the Gaucho 2-yard-line but fumbled away the ball back to Narbonne. That inspired the Gauchos as they drove 98 yards in nine plays, that was capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Williams to wide receiver A.J. Richardson to cut the Huskies’ lead to 27-15.
Williams also showed his talented running ability as he cut Centennial’s lead to five points on a 27-yard TD run with 1:28 remaining in the third quarter.
With 6:26 to go in the game, the Huskies responded and led, 34-22, on a 15-yard scoring pass from quarterback Robert Webber to wide receiver Ryan Pascarella.
Narbonne, though, came back with two touchdowns but failed to convert on any of them, leaving the score tied at 34. The Gauchos cut Centennial’s lead to 34-28 with 5:24 remaining on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Williams to sophomore wide receiver Jon’tae Roberson, then tied the game on a 3-yard keeper from Williams. After Narbonne tied the game, Richardson, who is also the holder on point after touchdown attempts (mostly from senior kicker Cesar Montiel), head coach Manuel Douglas opted to go for a two-point conversion but Williams was tackled about one-half a yard short of the goal line.
The Huskies were able to cash in on that as they scored the winning TD on an 8-yard pass from Webber to running back Tre Watson and the PAT was added by kicker Rigo Luna, his fifth in six attempts, for the final score.
Despite the disappointing loss, Williams, an all-American who is bound for University of Washington after he graduates early during late next month, passed for 362 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while rushing for 105 yards and one TD.
Centennial will make its third bowl appearance as it faces powerful Concord De La Salle in the Open (Elite) Championship Bowl Game Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Home Depot Center. De La Salle rolled over Folsom, 49-15, in the Northern California Open Division Championship Bowl Game last Saturday at Sacramento State University’s Hughes Stadium.
Last Saturday’s Southern California Regional Bowl Championship Games:
Open Division: Corona Centennial 41, Narbonne 34.
Division II: Serra 27, Edison 10.
California State Division II Championship Bowl Game at Home Depot Center, Carson:
Serra vs. Oakdale, 4 p.m.