Los Angeles Preps: Brandon Dawkins

L.A. North: The final Top 10

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
8:00
AM PT
Westlake and Sierra Canyon reached the CIF State Bowl Games. The Trailblazers from Chatsworth rallied to beat Le Grand in the Division IV bowl game and capped an undefeated season.

The Warriors from Westlake lost to perennial powerhouse Concord De La Salle in the Open Division bowl game.

Despite the loss, Westlake remains the No. 1 team in the L.A. North top 10 rankings.

Here’s a look at the top 10:
  1. (1) Westlake (14-1) – Concord De La Salle shut out Westlake, 35-0, in the Open Division bowl game. It was the only loss of the season for Westlake. The Warriors lose Colorado-bound defensive ends Justin Solis and Johnny Stuart and most of the offensive line to graduation, but the team will be in good hands. Quarterback Justin Moore and Dashon Hunt, who’s already committed to UCLA, are juniors.
  2. (2) Oaks Christian (11-3) – Oaks Christian reached the Southern Section Northern Division championship for the second year in a row. That’s 2-for-2 since moving up to the Northern Division last year. Oaks Christian’s only three losses came against Bellevue from Washington in the first week and twice to Westlake. Record-breaking quarterback Brandon Dawkins is only a sophomore.
  3. (3) St. Bonaventure (10-3) – What a crazy season for St. Bonaventure. The Seraphs opened the season with a two-point win over Corona Centennial. They lost to Oaks Christian in a game in which the lights went out in at the stadium in the fourth quarter. They lost to Oaks Christian again in the semifinals of the Northern Division playoffs. Because of injuries, St. Bonaventure was able to show off a little freshman gem in Marcus Chambers at the end of the season. The running back rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games.
  4. (4) Sierra Canyon (15-0) – The Trailblazers grew up fast. They won their first CIF state bowl game in their short football history. Sierra Canyon only started playing 11-man football three years ago. The seniors on this team remember when Sierra Canyon was an eight-man team. Coach Jon Ellinghouse said after his team won the Division IV bowl game that he wanted to make Sierra Canyon a yearly bowl contender. He’s on the right track.
  5. (5) Chaminade (10-3) – The Eagles stumbled at the end of the season after posting some impressive wins early in the year. They lost to Gardena Serra and consequently loss the Mission League championship. They had two tough road games in the Western Division playoffs and ultimately lost to eventual champion Arroyo Grande. The good news is running back Terrell Newby is only a junior. He, his 2,117 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns are expected back for his senior season.

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Westlake awaits CIF bowl berth

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
1:21
PM PT


After Westlake’s 49-42 win over Oaks Christian in the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs, coach Jim Benkert and his players are awaiting to see if they will receive a berth in one of the CIF state bowl games at the Home Depot Center in Carson next week.

It’s more a matter of when than if Westlake will find out which team and which bowl game they will get invited to play.

Still Benkert said after the game he would be disappointed if his team didn’t get invited to a bowl game.

Westlake has been the dominate team in Southern California this season. It could be argued that Westlake has been the dominate team the past three seasons. The Warriors are coming off an undefeated 14-0 season that started with an overtime win over Del Oro in Loomis in Northern California in September.

Westlake only trailed three times this season. The first was to Del Oro. Oaks Christian got the jump on Westlake twice, the first time the two teams met in October and in the Northern Division championship game.

The Warriors are 40-2 over the past three seasons, the only losses coming last year to St. Bonaventure and Oaks Christian. Oaks Christian has been one of the few teams that challenged Westlake over the past three seasons. The Northern Division championship game on Friday night was no different.

Oaks Christian had a 21-7 lead in the first half mainly because of the play of Francis Owusu. He had his best game of the season, with four catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He came into the game with 31 catches for 526 yards on the season, averaging only 40.4 receiving yards per game. He had season highs in yards and touchdowns.

But the quick strike Westlake offense scored twice in less than a minute in the second quarter and tied the score, 21-21, at halftime.

Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said he wanted to make the game more like a 7-on-7 passing tournament. It worked for nearly a half. But once Westlake’s running game got rolling, it was tough to stop.

Junior running back Dashon Hunt was the star of the game for Westlake with 125 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He also intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards for another touchdown.

Westlake rushed for 229 yards, mainly behind Hunt and quarterback Justin Moore. Moore rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also intercepted two passes playing defenseive back. It could be argued Moore, who is also a junior, had his best game of the season.

His second interception came at a key point in the game. Oaks Christian climbed within a touchdown of Westlake, 35-28, in the fourth quarter. After forcing Westlake to punt on a three-and-out on the next possession, Oaks Christian took over on its own 46-yard line.

Quarterback Brandon Dawkins hit Owusu with an 18-yard pass to give Oaks Christian a 1st-and-10 on the Westlake 36, but on the next play, Moore picked off his second pass of the game.

He returned the interception to Oaks Christian’s 25-yard line. Four plays later, Westlake had a 42-28 lead on a four-yard touchdown run by Hunt.

Confidence is high with this Westlake team. Hunt said after the game he thinks his team can beat any team in the state.

“When we play our game, when we play together, we can beat anybody,” Hunt said.

One thing is for certain, whoever Westlake plays in the CIF state bowl game can expect a handful.

Northern: Westlake 49, Oaks Christian 42

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
12:42
AM PT


WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- Westlake and Oaks Christian went toe-to-toe again in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championship game Friday night.

In a rematch of the last year’s Northern Division title game, Westlake came out on top, fending off a tenacious Oaks Christian team that refused to quietly relinquish the division crown.

When it looked as if Westlake had the game in hand, Oaks Christian mounted a furious comeback in the final 90 seconds. But five touchdowns by Westlake’s Dashon Hunt proved to be too much to overcome.

Westlake (14-0) hung on for a 49-42 win over Oaks Christian (11-3) and won its second Northern Division championship in the past three years. Westlake has played in three consecutive Northern Division championship games and lost to Oaks Christian by one point last year on a missed field goal that hit the right upright.

“They’re all great, but this one is special,” Westlake coach Jim Benkert said. “This year, they redeemed all that. I’m really, really proud.”

Hunt rushed for 125 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground. He intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned in 20 yards for a touchdown.

Oaks Christian quarterback Brandon Dawkins threw five interceptions and the Lions committed six turnovers.

“You turn the ball over six or seven times, you can’t expect to win the game,” Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said.

Oaks Christian built a 21-7 lead in the first half on three touchdown catches by little-used Francis Owusu. He caught four passes for 179 yards.

But Westlake scored two touchdown in less than a minute in the second quarter to tie the score, 21-21, just before halftime.

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Preview: Westlake at Oaks Christian

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
10:16
PM PT


The sequels are never quite as good as the originals. There are exceptions: “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Godfather II” come to mind.

The CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championship game between Oaks Christian and Westlake is a rematch of last year’s title game. It will be hard to exceed the hype, drama and outcome of the original.

The cast of players for Westlake has changed dramatically. Quarterback Justin Moore took over for Nick Isham, who started for Lousiana Tech this season as a freshman. Running back Dashon Hunt has taken over admirably for Tavior Mowry. Connor Cook has emerged as a big-play receiver in place of the reliable Nelson Spruce from last year’s Westlake team.

The Oaks Christian roster has some familiar names, including Arizona State-bound linebacker Carlos Mendoza, highly recruited receiver Jordan Payton and a double-threat at corner back and running back in Ishmael Adams.

These two teams know each other well. This championship game on Friday night at Oaks Christian will be the fourth meeting in the past two seasons.

Westlake (13-0) comes in as the overwhelming favorite and the No. 1-ranked team in the ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25. Several outlets have Westlake ranked as the No. 1 team in the state. The Warriors are 39-2 over the past three seasons and won the Northern Division championship in 2009.

Oaks Christian (11-2) is the reigning Northern Division champion, ranked fifth by ESPN Los Angeles and is making its ninth straight CIF championship game appearance. The Lions moved up to the Northern Division last year after competing in the Northwest Division. Oaks Christian is 6-2 in CIF championship games and playing for its seventh CIF football championship in the past nine years.

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L.A. North: The Top 10

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
11:07
PM PT
The championship game of the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs is the same as it ever was. Oaks Christian, the reigning champion, will play Westlake, the No. 1-ranked team in the state and by ESPN Los Angeles.

The Westlake football team pounded poor Thousand Oaks in the semifinals of the Northern Division playoffs.

Oaks Christian had to rally in the second half to knock out St. Bonaventure in the other Northern Division semifinal setting up a rematch of last year’s championship game. It will be the fourth time in the past two seasons that Westlake and Oaks Christian have played.

Westlake is 2-1 in the previous three meetings. Oaks Christian’s only win came in last year’s Northern Division championship game, 29-28.

Here’s a look at this week’s L.A. North top 10:
  1. (1) Westlake (13-0) – The Warriors will be well-rested for their championship matchup against Oaks Christian. Quarterback Justin Moore threw for 98 yards and two touchdowns in one half of work. Running back Dashon Hunt gained 75 yards in eight carries and scored on a 42-yard punt return, all in the first half. Westlake will be making its third Northern Division championship game appearance in a row. The Warriors won the title in 2009 and lost to Oaks Christian last year.
  2. (2) Oaks Christian (11-2) – The reigning Northern Division champions are making their ninth straight CIF championship game appearance. The Lions have won seven CIF championships, but last year’s was their first in the Northern Division. Brandon Dawkins was about as efficient as a quarterback can be in the semifinal game against St. Bonaventure. He completed 25 of 29 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said he was surprised he didn’t go 29-for-29. One area of concern might be that the longest pass of the night came on a halfback option. Chris Davis completed a 37-yard pass to Jordan Payton to set up a touchdown run by Dawkins in the third quarter.
  3. (3) St. Bonaventure (10-3) – The Seraphs came up a game short of the Northern Division championship again. Injuries plagued St. Bonaventure before and during its 27-24 loss to Oaks Christian. Starting quarterback Marc Evans sat out because of an injured shoulder. Receiver and kick returner Montre Lee injured his elbow during a key drive in the fourth quarter and was taken off the field in an ambulance. Not to make excuses, but a healthier St. Bonaventure team might have been able to hold a 10-point lead against Oaks Christian. At least the lights stayed on at the stadium.
  4. (4) Chaminade (10-3) – For the second year in a row, Chaminade ended its playoff run in the Western Division semifinals. Arroyo Grande beat Chaminade, 45-36. Running back Terrell Newby ended the season with 188 yards against Arroyo Grande and set the school record for rushing. He gained 2,073 yards in his junior season, easily breaking the record of 1,741 yards set by Tim Lavin in 1987. Newby scored 35 touchdowns this season and has 57 TDs in his career with one year to go.
  5. (5) Sierra Canyon (13-0) – Running backs Danny Jordan and Xavier Menifeld combined for 282 yards rushing – each had 141 yards -- and kicker Noah Zgrablich made three field goals in their team’s 42-16 win over Bishop Diego in the East Valley Division semifinal. The top-seeded Trailblazers get a rematch against Paraclete, the reigning East Valley Division champion, in the title game on Saturday night.

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No. 7 Oaks Chr. 27, No. 8 St. Bona. 24

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
12:59
AM PT


VENTURA – Oaks Christian quarterback Brandon Dawkins said his team was flustered, a little surprised and came out cocky against St. Bonaventure in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs on Friday night.

The Seraphs jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first half, but Oaks Christian scored two touchdowns in the first six minutes of the third quarter and eliminated St. Bonaventure from the playoffs, 27-24, at Ventura High School.

Dawkins passed for 195 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 74 yards and scored two more on the ground. Dawkins peppered St. Bonaventure with an array of screens and quick-outs to chew up the clock and engineered two long drives that produced key touchdowns against a stingy St. Bonaventure defense.

Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell agreed with Dawkins that his team didn’t play well in the first half of the game.

“I don’t have an answer for it,” Redell said. “We have been playing well in the playoffs. We didn’t play like we should have.”

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L.A. North: Pick six games of the week

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
1:40
PM PT
No. 7 Oaks Christian (10-2) vs. No. 8 St. Bonaventure (10-2) at Ventura High School, Friday (7 p.m.) – Oaks Christian is on the road for its Northern Division semifinal game against St. Bonaventure and coach Bill Redell probably prefers it that way. The two teams met in the second week of Marmonte League play at Oaks Christian and the game was delayed nearly 30 minutes when the lights went out at the football stadium in the middle of a punt in the second half. Redell said if his team faced St. Bonaventure again in the playoffs, he would like to play the game during the day and anywhere but at Oaks Christian. Even though Oaks Christian won by 12 points, the game was much closer than that. St. Bonaventure cut Oaks Christian’s lead to three points, 27-24, in the fourth quarter before the lights went out. Oaks Christian scored the last nine points of the game on a safety and a 59-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Dawkins to Chris Davis. Oaks Christian had 400 yards of total offense to St. Bonaventure’s 401. Dawkins passed for 177 yards. St. Bonaventure quarterback Marc Evans had 156 yards passing. Oaks Christian gained 223 yards on the ground to St. Bonaventure’s 245. Oaks Christian running back Ishmael Adams had a big game with two rushing touchdowns and 77 yards on 11 carries.

No. 18 Chaminade (10-2) vs. No. 19 Arroyo Grande (11-1), Friday (7 p.m.) – Arroyo Grande eliminated Chaminade, 52-19, in the semifinals of the Western Division playoffs last year. Chaminade coach Ed Croson is not looking forward to a second long road trip in a row in the playoffs. His Eagles had to rally in the fourth quarter to beat San Luis Obispo in the quarterfinals. Arroyo Grande, on the other hand, is home for the third week in a row in the playoffs. Arroyo Grande is coming off a 49-28 win over St. Francis in the quarterfinals, but the game was much closer than the final score indicated. Arroyo Grande scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to turn a four-point deficit into a 21-point blowout. Two of the touchdowns Arroyo Grande scored were of the defensive variety. Garrett Owens intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. Seth Jacobs returned a fumble 55 yards for another touchdown. Chaminade running back Terrell Newby is closing in on 2,000 yards rushing for the season. He has 1,885 yards and 30 touchdowns and is coming off a 282-yard, three-touchdown performance against San Luis Obispo.

Canoga Park (8-4) vs. South East (11-1), Friday (7 p.m.) – Canoga Park, the fifth-seeded team in the City Section Division II playoffs, needed double overtime to eliminate Bell in the quarterfinals. Running back Khyree Morgan leads Canoga Park with 1,179 yards and 14 touchdowns, but was held to 39 yards in 16 carries against Bell. South East, the top-seeded team in the Division II playoffs, blew out Fremont, 42-19, in the quarterfinals. Running back Robert Lewis gained 157 yards and scored two touchdowns for South East against Fremont.

Granada Hills (7-5) vs. Marshall of Los Angeles (10-2), Friday (7 p.m.) – Granada Hills turned it on in the second half against Van Nuys in the quarterfinals of the City Section Division II playoffs. The Highlanders outscored Van Nuys 20-0 en route to a 44-22 win. Granada Hills had 290 rushing yards against Van Nuys. Brian Sanchez was the leading rusher with 181 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall was actually down 10-6 in the first quarter against Lincoln in its quarterfinal game before rattling off 43 unanswered points and winning 49-10. Marshall quarterback Anthony Benitez threw for 313 yards and five touchdowns, two to Jonathan Mina. He caught five passes for 113 yards.

Bishop Diego (11-1) vs. Sierra Canyon (12-0) at Granada Hills High School, Friday (7 p.m.) – Sierra Canyon eliminated Bishop Diego, 48-17, in the first round of the East Valley Division playoffs last year. They meet again in the East Valley Division semifinals. No. 1 seeded Sierra Canyon is coming off a 38-0 shutout over Ontario Christian. Bishop Diego has won 11 games in a row, including 21-14 over Twentynine Palms in the East Valley Division quarterfinals.

Paraclete (10-2) vs. Rim of the World (7-5), Friday (7 p.m.) – Fortune is smiling on Rim of the World in the East Valley Division playoffs. The Fighting Scots knocked third-seeded St. Margaret’s out of the playoffs, 23-13, in the quarterfinals. They are home for their semifinal game against Paraclete, the reigning East Valley Division champion. Rim of the World running back Jacob Taylor is coming off a monster game. He rushed for 264 yards on 47 carries and scored three touchdowns. The Spirits eliminated Aquinas, 42-7, in the quarterfinals last week. Paraclete running back Ryan Davis scored two touchdowns and rushed for 73 yards. James Holland returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and Joshua Adams returned a fumble for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

L.A. North: The Top 10

November, 27, 2011
11/27/11
10:42
PM PT
It’s that time of year when only the strong survive. Westlake has been the strongest of the strong and continued its undefeated season. The Sierra Canyon football team moved another step closer to its first CIF championship and also stayed undefeated.

Ventura picked the wrong time to lose its first game and was eliminated from the Western Division playoffs.

Highland, Moorpark and Canyon, all ranked in the L.A. North top 10 last week, lost and were eliminated from the Northern Division playoffs.

Here’s a look at how this week's L.A. North top 10 and how they fared:
  1. (1) Westlake (12-0) – The Westlake scoring machine keeps rolling, this time to the tune of 42-14 against an overmatched Hart team in the Northern Division quarterfinals. Receiver Connor Cook caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Justin Moore. The junior quarterback also rushed for 125 yards in five carries. Running back Dashon Hunt scored three touchdowns and gained 99 yards in nine carries.
  2. (2) Oaks Christian (10-2) – The Lions trounced Highland, 55-21, behind a record-breaking night from sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins. He threw a school record seven touchdowns against Highland. That’s a pretty impressive record considering Jimmy Clausen and Nick Montana were quarterbacks at Oaks Christian.
  3. (4) St. Bonaventure (9-3) – The Seraphs ended Canyon’s playoff run for the second year in a row, 38-17, at Ventura High School. St. Bonaventure won impressively, but there are two areas of concern. Quarterback Marc Evans threw three interceptions against Canyon and running back Shaun Wick had only four carries. Wick, the team’s leading rusher for the first 10 games of the season, is nursing a calf injury from the Marmonte League season finale against Westlake.
  4. (5) Chaminade (10-2) – If the Eagles want to win the Western Division championship, they’ll have to play like road warriors. Chaminade has its second tough road game in the playoffs against second-seeded Arroyo Grande on Friday night. Chaminade had to rally by scoring a touchdown in the final two minutes of the game to beat San Luis Obispo on the road in the quarterfinals. Running back Terrell Newby is putting on his best Mad Max impersonation, carrying the ball 28 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns against San Luis Obispo.

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L.A. North: Pick six games of the week

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
7:59
PM PT
No. 2 Westlake (11-0) vs. Hart (8-3) at College of the Canyons, Friday (7 p.m.)
Hart is back in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, but the Indians are about to get a taste of what it will take to start winning CIF championships again. Westlake hasn’t really been tested since Week 1, an overtime win over Del Oro in Loomis in Northern California. This game could be over by halftime and a feast of sacks for Justin Solis and Johnny Stuart. Westlake will be able to rest up its starters before the Northern Division semifinals.

No. 9 Oaks Christian (9-2) vs. Highland (9-1), Friday (7:30 p.m.)
Oaks Christian has rattled some of the top quarterbacks in the Marmonte League, but Highland has a special one in Christian Tago. The senior has thrown for 2,323 yards and 25 touchdowns. He is headed to San Jose State next fall. Oaks Christian has a good quarterback in sophomore Brandon Dawkins, who has thrown for 1,927 yards and 21 touchdowns in addition to rushing for 176 yards and three touchdowns. There should be lots of scoring in this one.

Canyon (9-2) vs. No. 11 St. Bonaventure (9-2) at Ventura High School, Friday (7 p.m.)
This is a rematch of last year’s Northern Division quarterfinals. St. Bonaventure won, 45-21, before losing in the semifinals. Canyon is coming off a 21-0 shutout over Palmdale in the first round. Junior receiver Drew Wolitarsky had a nice game with four catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. St. Bonaventure escaped a first-round scare, 19-10, over Redondo. It took nearly a half before the Seraphs woke up and erased a 10-0 deficit. Running back Zack Green rushed for 137 yards and Marcus Chambers gained 47 yards in 10 carries, scoring the first touchdown for St. Bonaventure in the second quarter. Shaun Wick, St. Bonaventure’s leading rusher with 885 yards and 11 touchdowns, did not play against Redondo.

Birmingham (9-2) vs. No. 16 Dorsey (10-1), Friday (7 p.m.)
Birmingham needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to beat Arleta, 21-18, in the first round of the City Section Division I playoffs. Quarterback Trae Smith passed for 115 yards and two touchdowns and scored the winning touchdown on a three-yard run with a little over a minute to play. Dorsey is the third-seeded team in the City Section playoffs and clobbered Fairfax, 35-13, in the first round.

No. 22 Chaminade (9-2) vs. San Luis Obispo (8-3), Friday (7:30 p.m.)
Chaminade receiver Elijah Dunston caught two passes for 74 yards and scored two touchdowns in his team’s 45-15 win over Inglewood in the first round of the Western Division playoffs. He wasn’t the only Chaminade player who made the most of his touches. Running back Terrell Newby scored three touchdowns in 12 carries and gained 70 yards. San Luis Obispo won a shootout, 54-28, against Camarillo in the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers exploded for 28 points in the third quarter and extended a 13-point halftime lead to 41 points in the fourth quarter.

St. Francis (9-2) vs. Arroyo Grande (10-1), Friday (7:30 p.m.)
Arroyo Grande is the team no one wants to face in the Western Division playoffs. The Eagles made it to the championship game and lost to Serra last season. Arroyo Grande has won 10 games in a row and hasn’t lost since opening night against Lompoc. The Eagles won convincingly, 41-6, over Dos Pueblos in the first round of the playoffs. St. Francis is a tough team too. The Golden Knights have won three games in a row, including, 45-28, over Paramount in the first round of the playoffs. Quarterback Jared Lebowitz threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Luke Anderson rushed for 44 yards in nine carries and scored three touchdowns.

L.A. North: 5 things from the weekend

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
4:28
PM PT
  1. Not only is the Ventura football team undefeated through 11 games and the first round of the playoffs, they haven’t trailed in a game since Week 1. The Cougars were down 16-15 in the third quarter against Pacifica in the season opener. Ventura scored the final 19 points of the game to win, 34-16. Coach Brad Steward was looking through Ventura’s first 10 games in preparation for the opening of the Southern Section Western Division playoffs against Dominguez and discovered his team’s streak in leading games. The Cougars have been on quite a roll since the start of the season. Teams are scoring only 8.7 points against Ventura. The Cougars are coming off a 41-14 win over Dominguez in the first round of the Western Division playoffs. They play Santa Monica (10-1) in the quarterfinals on Friday night. The Vikings are on a bit of a roll of their own, with seven wins in a row and their loss only coming against Valencia on Sept. 30.
  2. The Marmonte League went a perfect 5-0 in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs. The biggest blowout, Westlake over Eastside, 59-12. The closest game, surprisingly, St. Bonaventure, 19-10, over Redondo. Quarterbacks were the difference for Oaks Christian and Moorpark. Sophomore Brandron Dawkins threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns in Oaks Christian’s impressive 43-10 win over Mira Costa. He could have had more, but only played in the first half. Moorpark’s Grant Rohach passed for 176 yards and a touchdown, but every one of his passes were crucial in a 17-10 win over fourth-seeded Valencia. He threw a touchdown pass to Kenny Feyh in the fourth quarter to give Moorpark a 15-10 lead. Rohach also connected with Alex Tolliver for an important two-point conversion pass for a seven-point lead in the final minutes of the game. Not to be forgotten was a tough road win for Thousand Oaks, 20-7, over Quartz Hill. The Lancers erased a 7-0 deficit and scored 20 unanswered points to win going away. Moorpark and Thousand Oaks will play each other in the quarterfinals in a rematch of their Marmonte League opener. Thousand Oaks won that game, 27-24, on a last-second field goal.
  3. The San Fernando Valley went 1-4 in the first round of the City Section Division I playoffs. Birmingham was the only team to advance to the quarterfinals. El Camino Real, Arleta, Woodland Hills Taft and Reseda all lost in the first round and were eliminated. Arleta running back Dejon Coleman rushed for 156 yards and scored a touchdown in his team’s 21-18 loss to Birmingham. He broke the City Section record with 47 touchdowns this season. Birmingham scored the winning touchdown with a little over a minute to play in the game. The lone remaining team from the San Fernando Valley plays No. 3 Dorsey in the second round.
  4. The magic ran out for Camarillo and quarterback Travis Valdez. The junior threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns, but Camarillo lost to San Luis Obispo, 54-28, in the first round of the Western Division playoffs. Valdez threw for 2,594 yards and 35 touchdowns in eight games. He took over the starting quarterback job on Oct. 6 and won his first six starts. Receiver Jake Maulhardt caught 10 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown for Camarillo. He ends his high school career with 119 catches, second most in Southern Section history. Richard Mullaney from Thousand Oaks set the Southern Section record last year with 122 catches over his high school career.
  5. A week after losing a share of the Foothill League championship for using an ineligible player and having to forfeit a game, Canyon won impressively in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs, 21-0, over Palmdale. Quarterback Jonathan Jerozal threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Drew Wolitarsky caught four passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. The Canyon defense came up with some huge plays. Juan Rodriguez blocked a 30-yard field-goal attempt. Mikey Hager had an interception just before halftime and set up Wolitarsky’s second touchdown catch, a 77-yarder as time expired. Canyon moves on to face St. Bonaventure in a rematch of last year’s Northern Division quarterfinal game. St. Bonaventure won that game, 45-21.

L.A. North: The Top 10

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
10:14
PM PT
Two of the undefeated teams in the L.A. North Top 10 earned No. 1 seeds in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Westlake, as expected, is the top seed in the Northern Division playoffs. Sierra Canyon is No. 1 in the East Valley Division playoffs.

Ventura, the other undefeated team in the L.A. North top 10, is the No. 4 seed in the Western Division playoffs.

It was a rough end to the regular season for a few teams in the top 10. Crespi lost to Loyola in the Serra League season finale, then lost coin flips to determine the third and final team from the Serra League to advance to the Pac-5 Division playoffs.

Chaminade lost to Gardena Serra in the Mission League season finale and dropped from the No. 1 to the No. 3 seed in the Western Division playoffs.

Simi Valley cracked the top 10 for the first time this season and proceeded to lose to Moorpark in the Marmonte League finale and ultimately was eliminated from playoff contention in the Northern Division on coin flips.

Here is a look at the L.A. North top 10:
  1. (1) Westlake (10-0) – Coach Jim Benkert will never admit it, but his team comfortably beat St. Bonaventure, 35-14, in the Marmonte League championship game. Quarterback Justin Moore picked apart the St. Bonaventure defense throwing for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 69 yards and scored the last touchdown of the game on a quarterback sneak.
  2. (2) Alemany (8-2) – Receiver Steven Mitchell had a huge game, catching nine passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns, in Alemany’s 21-14 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in the Serra League finale. Maybe a little too close for comfort for coach Dean Herrington, but Alemany earned the No. 4 seed in the Pac-5 Division playoffs with the Serra League championship and an undefeated record in league play.
  3. (5) Oaks Christian (8-2) – With a 42-7 win over Newbury Park and a St. Bonaventure loss to Westlake in the Marmonte League finales, Oaks Christian earned the No. 2 seed in the Northern Division playoffs. The reigning Northern Division champs went up 42-0 at halftime behind four touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins.
  4. (6) Ventura (10-0) – The Cougars didn’t play last week, polishing off the Channel League championship with a 41-0 shutout over San Marcos two weeks ago. The Cougars have had two weeks to prepare for the start of the Western Division playoffs. They will look to extend a perfect season and make a run at a CIF championship.
  5. (3) St. Bonaventure (7-3) – The 1-2 punch of Shaun Wick and Zack Green wasn’t as effective as anticipated against Westlake. Green rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, but Wick was a little nicked up and only gained 22 yards on 10 carries. If St. Bonaventure faces Westlake again with a healthier Wick, it might be a different outcome.

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L.A. North: Games of the Week

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
9:58
PM PT
CanyonTim Haddock/For ESPNLA.comCanyon will be facing a tough defense when it takes on Valencia in a key Foothill League game.

The Canyon football team has been rolling over opponents, averaging 49.8 points. The Valencia football team has been shutting down opposing offenses, yielding an average of 12.2 points.

When the two teams meet on Friday night at Valencia High School, it will be a classic matchup of an explosive offense vs. a stingy defense.

Except that the Valencia offense woke up against West Ranch in the Foothill League opener last week.

Valencia (3-3), the reigning Foothill League champ, scored a season-high 31 points in a 31-14 win over West Ranch. Running back Jake Solley rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns for Valencia, which came into the game averaging only 13.6 points.

Canyon (6-0), the No. 20 team in the ESPNLA top 25 rankings, is coming off a 51-28 win over Saugus. The Cowboys eclipsed the 50-point mark for the fourth time this season and have been beating teams by a average margin of 36 points per game.

Canyon quarterback Jonathan Jerozal threw three touchdowns passes, two to receiver Drew Wolitarsky, in the game against Saugus. But Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez said it was the emergence of the running attack that has led to Canyon’s high scores and eye-popping statistics.

Canyon running back Max Archuleta has rushed for 727 yards and scored eight touchdowns in six games. He is averaging 121.1 yards per game and 7.8 yards per carry. Gutierrez says Archuleta is a phenomenal athlete, but he had no idea how much of an impact he would make on the offense.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Gutierrez said. “The offensive line is doing their thing. It's execution. It’s increased our options.”

With a running game that demands attention, Jerozal and Wolitarsky have been able to shine throughout the season. It has also given receivers Coley Apsay and Brenden Stach chances to make plays.

Gutierrez calls Apsay, the starting point guard on the Canyon basketball team, his team’s most consistent player.

“Coley’s one of our best athletes,” Gutierrez said. “He’s a solid possession receiver.”

Valencia will definitely be the toughest defense Canyon has faced all season. But Gutierrez says he expects a tough game every week.

“They have great players, great coaches,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Saugus, but I almost see every week as the toughest test we have. I see every game as a tough game. They got talented kids. It’s good stuff.”

Here’s a look at some of the other top games in the L.A. North:

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L.A. North: Five things from the weekend

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
6:32
PM PT
  1. Even though Sherman Oaks Notre Dame lost its Serra League opener, 28-26, to Crespi, the Knights can look to some positives from the game. First off, Notre Dame outgained Crespi in total offense, 212 yards to 164 yards. Neither team was able to move the ball much on offense, but Notre Dame running back Khalfani Muhammad made his presence felt. He rushed for 92 yards in 26 carries but didn’t find the end zone. Secondly, Notre Dame picked off two passes and turned them into touchdowns. Kevin Carrasco’s interception return in the second quarter gave Notre Dame a 10-point lead, 17-7. Nick Holland’s pick six in the fourth quarter put Notre Dame up 24-21. Finally, Notre Dame’s Sam Robinson matched Crespi’s Chris Harper for most acrobatic touchdown catch of the game. Robinson made a diving catch for a touchdown that tied the score, 7-7, in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Notre Dame doesn’t win games with style points. Now, the Knights find themselves in a must-win situation against Loyola on Friday night at L.A. Valley College. Notre Dame needs a win to get back in the Serra League championship hunt. Loyola is playing its Serra League opener after having a bye last week. It will be another tough one for Notre Dame. Crespi, meanwhile, plays Bishop Amat, which lost its Serra League opener to Alemany.
  2. Two school passing records were broken over the weekend. Canyon quarterback Jonathan Jerozal set the school mark for career touchdown passes in the Foothill League opener against Saugus. Oaks Christian quarterback Brandon Dawkins broke the school record for passing yards in a game in a 50-0 shutout against Royal. Jerozal threw three touchdown passes in his team’s 51-28 win over Saugus. He has 62 career touchdown passes and broke the record set by Nate Longshore, who went on to play at Cal. Dawkins passed for 387 yards against Royal and broke the record set by Jimmy Clausen, who passed for 367 yards against Santa Paula in 2006, and went on to play in college at Tennessee. It might be the first of many school records for Dawkins, who is only a sophomore.
  3. Some of the biggest rushing games on Friday night came out of the City Section. Kawan Rally from El Camino Real rushed for 319 yards and four touchdowns in his team’s 48-7 win over Woodland Hills Taft. It wasn’t only a huge night for Rally, but for the El Camino Real program. The Conquistadores beat Taft for the first time since 1991. Birmingham’s Isaiah Hastings rushed for 248 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s 35-16 win over Chatsworth. Both his touchdowns came in the second half, one on an 86-yard run in the third quarter. Arleta’s Dejon Coleman didn’t have eye-popping numbers on the ground, but he scored four touchdowns in his team’s 49-6 win over Poly. He scored two rushing touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and intercepted a pass for a touchdown. Coleman gained 91 yards on nine carries and caught five passes for 75 yards. Brian Sanchez from Granada Hills rushed for 213 yards and scored three touchdowns in his team’s 38-13 win over Cleveland of Reseda.
  4. Another game, another rushing record for Zander Anding from Burroughs of Burbank. He rushed for 394 yards and scored six touchdowns in his team’s 70-34 win over Glendale. It was Anding’s third 300-yard rushing game in a row and the third time he has broken his own school record for rushing yards in a game. He scored on runs of 39, 75, 5, 47 and 41 yards and caught a touchdown pass. Way out in the high desert, Quartz Hill’s Osirus Burke rushed for 242 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Rebels’ 27-21 win over Palmdale. Burke scored on runs of 6, 1, 13 and 11 yards.
  5. Pasadena Poly won the Oxnard water polo tournament, beating Rio Mesa, 15-7, in the championship match. Rio Mesa reached the final of the Oxnard tournament for the third year in a row. The Spartans won the tournament in 2009 by beating Pasadena Poly. Rio Mesa lost to Crescenta Valley in last year’s championship match. Rio Mesa beat Malibu, 13-9, in the semifinals. Rio Mesa’s Joe Yamamoto scored five goals against Malibu and had four goals in the championship match against Pasadena Poly.

No. 9 Westlake 43, No. 4 Oaks Chr. 21

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
12:11
AM PT


WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- The Oaks Christian football players walked from their campus to Westlake High School for their game Thursday night.

But it was the Westlake football team that ran all over Oaks Christian in a Marmonte League game.

Westlake racked up 444 rushing yards in a convincing 43-21 win over its crosstown rivals, handing Oaks Christian its first league loss, and remained undefeated.

Quarterback Justin Moore gained 226 yards in 14 carries and scored the first touchdown for Westlake in the first quarter.

Running back Jarrius Bishop rushed for 104 yards in 20 carries and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run just before halftime to give Westlake a 27-14 lead.

Kicker Alex Ball made five field goals, including a 47-yarder in the third quarter.

Westlake coach Jim Benkert said after the game he needed to come up with a game plan to neutralize the Oaks Christian secondary. The defensive backs for Oaks Christian gave Westlake fits in summer passing leagues, Benkert said.

“They have a lot of great athletes in that secondary,” Benkert said. “We really had to look elsewhere. I don’t think I’ve gone to a running game like that in my career.”

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L.A. North: Games of the Week

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
4:58
PM PT
Jim Benkert, Bill RedellJohn Lazar/For ESPNLA.comWestlake coach Jim Benkert, left, and Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell have established a competitive rivalry between their teams in Westlake Village.

The Oaks Christian and Westlake football teams met twice last season. Westlake won the first game convincingly, 31-12, during Marmonte League play in Week 4.

But Oaks Christian won the second meeting in dramatic fashion, 29-28, in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championship game.

The two teams meet again Thursday night at Westlake High School and the winner will have an undefeated record in the Marmonte League.

Both teams are coming off impressive wins last week. Oaks Christian (3-1), the No. 4 team in the ESPNLA prep football Top 25 rankings, rolled over Calabasas, 56-7, resting most of its starters in the second half.

Westlake (4-0), the No. 9 team in the ESPNLA rankings, scored 10 touchdowns in a 73-28 win over Royal. Connor Cook scored five of those touchdowns, two on kickoff returns and three on receptions. He caught four passes for 77 yards and had kickoff returns of 85 and 82 yards for touchdowns.

Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said his team, coaches, cheerleaders and members of the band will march from their school to Westlake for the game.

“It’s seven-tenths of a mile,” Redell said. “We want to make it a tradition.”

The Stanford football team used to walk from campus to its football field for games. But Redell said he got the idea from Westlake coach Jim Benkert. Benkert was going to have his team walk from their school to Oaks Christian last year but changed his mind at the last minute.

The two teams are separated by two blocks in Westlake Village. Oaks Christian and Westlake established a competitive rivalry after last year’s two meetings.

“It’s a healthy rivalry,” Redell said. “We have a lot of respect for Westlake.”

In the Northern Division championship game, Oaks Christian took the lead in the fourth quarter on a two-point conversion run by Blair Holliday. Westlake had enough time to drive down the field on the ensuing possession and set up a 41-yard field-goal attempt.

Westlake kicker Alex Ball, one of the best kickers in Southern California, hit the right upright and the football bounced back onto the field, giving Oaks Christian a one-point win.

Ball was 10-for-10 on extra-point attempts and made a 51-yard field goal against Royal last week.

Oaks Christian sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins has been nearly perfect since taking over the starting role two weeks ago. He has completed 28-of-32 of his passes, 88.5 percent, for 460 yards and seven touchdowns.

“He has been a pleasant surprise,” Redell said. “He’s gotten a lot better a lot sooner than I thought he would.”

Here’s a look at some of the other top games of the week in the L.A. North region:

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