Los Angeles Preps: Cody Kurz

1. Oaks Christian (12-2) – Oaks Christian won the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship, 29-28, over Westlake in the championship game. Oaks Christian loses a ton of senior skill players, including receiver Blair Holliday to Duke and defensive end Dillon Van Der Wal to Arizona State. Running back/defensive back Ishmael Adams, receiver Jordan Payton and linebacker Carlos Mendoza are only a couple of players who will be seniors next season.

2. Alemany (12-1) – In its first tour through the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 playoffs, Alemany made it to the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Servite, 28-21. Senior quarterback Vernon Adams led the team in almost every offensive category. He threw for 2,901 yards and 27 touchdowns. He rushed for 896 yards and scored 14 rushing touchdowns. He led Alemany in passing yards, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He will be a tough one to replace next season.

3. Westlake (12-2) – The Westlake football team lost only two games by a combined two points. The first loss came against St. Bonaventure, 32-31, in double overtime. The second loss came against Oaks Christian in the Northern Division championship. Westlake loses some key players on offense to graduation. Quarterback Nick Isham, running back Tavior Mowry and receiver Nelson Spruce are all seniors. The offense will be most likely be in the hands of sophomore quarterback Justin Moore and sophomore running back Dashon Hunt. Moore and Hunt also saw considerable playing time at defensive back.

4. St. Bonaventure (11-2) – St. Bonaventure lost to Westlake, 37-27, in the semifinals of the Northern Division playoffs. Linebacker Cody Kurz and defensive back Tanner Souza anchored a stingy St. Bonaventure defense that posted three shutouts and held eight opponents to 17 points or less. Kurz and Souza are seniors. The offense has three key players returning. Quarterback Marc Evans, running back Shaun Wick and receiver Jeremy Sanchez are juniors.

5. Paraclete (13-1) – Paraclete won the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division championship, beating Sierra Canyon, 14-7, in the title game. Paraclete lost its opening night game, then rattled off 13 wins in a row. The Paraclete running game should be in good hands, so to speak. Ryan Davis is a junior and rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown in the East Valley Division championship game. His brother, Roosevelt Davis, is a senior and gained 53 yards on 11 carries in addition to picking off a pass on defense against Sierra Canyon.

Paraclete had two sophomores, Travion Boykins and Uriah Trailer, who made significant contributions this season.

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Facing teams with top-notch quarterbacks, talented wide receivers and pounding running backs is nothing new to St. Bonaventure.

Playing in the Marmonte League, St. Bonaventure, the No. 6 team in the ESPNLA.com rankings, has seen its share of skilled offensive players. The St. Bonaventure defense has risen to each challenge, sometime shutting out some of the most explosive offenses in Southern California.

The Canyon football team is similar to some of the top offenses in the Marmonte League, said St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien. When the two teams meet on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs at Ventura High School, it will be another test for the St. Bonaventure defense.

Canyon boasts a young and talented, perhaps even oblivious, offensive unit led by quarterback Jonathan Jerozal. The junior quarterback has thrown for 2,837yards and 29 touchdowns in 11 games.

His favorite target has been sophomore receiver Drew Wolitarsky, who has caught 72 passes for 1,405 yards and 13 touchdowns. Senior receiver T.J. Yonkers has emerged as a dangerous threat in the passing game with 54 catches for 803 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has caught 13 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns in the past three games, including the first round of the Northern Division playoffs against Palmdale.

Senior running back Darius Rudolph has gained 1,318 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He is averaging 7.5 yards per carry and has three 100-yard rushing games in a row.

There’s no doubt Canyon can score points. Coach Chris Varner said he is hoping his defense can make some stops and give his offense a chance to win the game.

“The last couple of weeks, we made some improvements,” Varner said. “We are able to move the ball, put some points up and have our defense step up. The kids feel real good and are excited.”

The St. Bonaventure defense has recorded three shutouts and held eight opponents to 17 points or less. Therrien said his goal is to keep Canyon to three touchdowns or less.

“God-willing, we’ll score more than three touchdowns,” Therrien said.

But it won’t be all on the defense’s shoulders. Therrien said he expects his offense to keep Jerozal and Co. off the field and his special teams to come up with a big play or two.

St. Bonaventure is coming off a 44-14 win over Redondo Union in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs. The score was 44-0 at halftime and Therrien rested many of his starters, including linebacker Cody Kurz and defensive back Shaun Wick in the second half.

“Getting a chance to rest was good,” Therrien said.

Canyon has won four games in a row and hasn’t lost since Oct. 22, 52-31, to Valencia.

“It’s a one-and-done situation,” Varner said. “We’ve been do-or-die since Game 6. We’re hoping to go out there and win.”

Other games:

Thousand Oaks (8-3) at No. 15 Oaks Christian (9-2), Friday, 7 p.m.

The first time these two teams met, Oaks Christian won, 28-26, holding off a furious Thousand Oaks comeback in the fourth quarter. Oaks Christian had a 28-7 lead after three quarters before Thousand Oaks scored 19 points in the fourth quarter. This time the games is at Thousand Oaks. Oaks Christian, the top seed in the Northern Division playoffs, routed Saugus 34-8 in the first round. Thousand Oaks narrowly beat Quartz Hill, 28-21, in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs.

No. 13 Valencia (10-1) at Moorpark (6-5), Friday, 7 p.m.

Moorpark has been the kryptonite to Valencia for the past two seasons. Moorpark has knocked Valencia out of the Northern Division playoffs each of the past two seasons. Valencia might have the upper hand in this one though. Moorpark is definitely on the downturn, but the Musketeers have home field and history on its side.

Palos Verdes (10-1) at No. 8 Westlake (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Westlake made quick work of Knight, 58-8, in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs. Westlake, the reigning Northern Division champs, was up 27-0 at halftime and scored three touchdowns in the third quarter. Running back Tavior Mowry scored four touchdowns and rushed for 177 yards. Palos Verdes rolled over West Ranch, 48-10, in the first round. Running back Marc Sasso rushed for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

Atascadero (9-2) at No. 24 Chaminade (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

Chaminade is coming off a 52-16 first round win over Culver City in the Western Division playoffs. Running back Terrell Newby rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Tru Jarvis gained 71 yards and scored three touchdowns. Atascadero squeaked past Ventura, 13-6, in the first round. Running backs Tanner Thompson and Deonte Barnes combined for 248 yards rushing and two touchdowns on a sloppy football field.

LA North: Athletes of the week

November, 9, 2010
Cody Kurz, St. Bonaventure, Sr.

He caught the two-point conversion pass that gave his team an upset, 32-31, double overtime win against Westlake. It was his only catch of the game and he played most of the night on the defensive side of the ball. He anchored a St. Bonaventure defense that came up with two goal line stands in the fourth quarter and kept the high-scoring Westlake offense out of the end zone. He had six tackles and two tackles for losses.

Jann Vongchaisaree, Van Nuys, Sr.

She won the CIF City Section girls golf championship shooting a 70 at the Balboa Golf Course in Encino last week. She shot a 37 on the front nine and 33 on the back nine. Her team finished second behind North Hollywood in the City Section team portion of the golf tournament. She and her Van Nuys teammates will continue in the playoffs at the Southern California Regional Tournament at the Golf Club at Rancho California in Murrieta on Wednesday.

LA North: No. 8 St. Bonaventure 32, No. 2 Westlake 31

November, 6, 2010

WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- The St. Bonaventure football team brought a sledgehammer to its Marmonte League game against Westlake. The players passed it around the sideline, each member of the defense touching it before the start of every quarter.

Something in that sledgehammer must have rubbed off on the St. Bonaventure players. It took two overtimes, two fourth-quarter defensive stands and a gutsy two-point conversion call in double overtime to beat Westlake, 32-31, ending the 22-game winning streak of the Warriors at Westlake High School on Friday night.

St. Bonaventure’s Cody Kurz said the sledgehammer represented a simple philosophy: Be the hammer, not the nail.

John Lazar/Special to ESPNLA.com
Despite three touchdown passes by Westlake quarterback Nick Isham, it wasn't enough to avoid a double-overtime loss.

Coincidentally, it was Kurz who nailed down the victory for No. 8 St. Bonaventure, catching the two-point conversion pass from quarterback Marc Evans in the second overtime period. It was the only catch of the game for Kurz, and it didn’t even officially count statistically. But his catch set off the St. Bonaventure faithful on a celebration flurry that spilled from the stands and onto the football field.

St. Bonaventure running back Shaun Wick rushed for 119 yards and scored two touchdowns. His second touchdown of the game came in the second overtime. He scored from 10 yards out and cut the Westlake lead to one, 31-30.

Westlake, the No. 2 team in the ESPNLA.com top 25 rankings, scored on its possession in the second overtime, forcing St. Bonaventure to have to score a touchdown to keep the overtime periods and the game going.

But instead of taking its chances with a third overtime period, St. Bonaventure went for two and the win. Evans found a wide open Kurz in the corner of the end zone and gently lobbed the football to him.

St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien said the play was his team’s No. 1 two-point conversion. The players had been practicing it all week. It didn’t seem to matter to Therrien that Kurz did not catch a pass the entire game. It didn’t seem to matter that Kurz spent most of the game on the defensive side of the ball.

He was only targeted on one other play, an incomplete pass attempt in the first half. But Therrien said after the game there was little doubt the two-point conversion play would work.

“This was our fourth overtime game,” Therrien said. “We’re 1-2 in the other three. Lost both games on extra points. Why risk it? Let’s go win the game.”

Evans was 24-of-41 for 229 yards passing. He threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

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LA North: No. 24 Oaks Christian 33, No. 16 St. Bonaventure 32 (OT)

September, 18, 2010

VENTURA – Oaks Christian quarterback Richie Harrington threw four touchdowns and rallied his team to a 33-32 overtime win over St. Bonaventure in the Marmonte League opener for both teams at Ventura High School on Friday night.

Harrington came in the game in the third quarter with his team down 19-0. He threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Blair Holliday to get his team on the scoreboard. Harrington scored on a 1-yard run to cut St. Bonaventure’s lead to five.

Harrington tied the score, 26-26, on a 29-yard screen pass to running back Ishmael Adams with 41 seconds left in the game.

Harrington’s 16-yard pass to Holliday in the first overtime period wound up being the game-winner.

Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell put in Harrington after starting quarterback Trevor Gretzky struggled in the first half. Gretzky threw three interceptions. His third came on the first drive of the third quarter.

But Redell isn’t quite ready to start the Richie Harrington era at Oaks Christian just yet.

“Gretzky’s still our starter,” Redell said. “It’s nice to know we have two quarterbacks we can depend on.”

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