Los Angeles Preps: Eric Pinkston
October, 12, 2011
By Tim Haddock | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Alex Gallardo for ESPNLosAngeles.comCrespi's Mike Davidson is one of several players Notre Dame will need to contain in their Serra League opener Friday.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney used an odd word choice to describe his team’s game against Crespi of Encino on Friday night.
The two teams open Serra League play with championship aspirations. All five teams in the Serra League appear in the ESPNLA top-25 prep football rankings. Rooney takes his No. 24 Notre Dame team on the road to play No. 16 Crespi and said it will be a “fun” way to open Serra League play.
“In our league, every game is critical,” Rooney said. “Crespi is a top team and our rival. It will be a tremendous challenge. It’s kind of fun it starts this way. It’s critical that each team wins every game they can.”
Notre Dame (4-1) lost its first game of the season to Chaminade, 36-32, last week. The Knights erased an 18-point, first-half deficit and took an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. But Chaminade scored 14 points in the final two minutes to win it.
The winning drive started when Chaminade recovered an onside kick. Running back Terrell Newby scored the winning touchdown with 15 seconds left.
“It was a tough loss,” Rooney said. “There were a lot of good things we did in the game. We’re past that and getting ready for Crespi.”
Notre Dame running back Khalfani Muhammad has emerged as one of the top running backs in the San Fernando Valley. He rushed for 84 yards and scored two touchdowns against Chaminade.
Quarterback Kelly Hilinski threw for 225 yards, completing 14 of 18 passes, and scored on a one-yard run in the second half.
Crespi (5-1) is coming off a 56-7 drubbing of Woodland Hills Taft. Quarterback Cody Cordell threw for three touchdowns and 155 yards in limited action. Receiver Christopher Harper caught two touchdown passes and finished the game with three catches for 64 yards.
Crespi won its first four games of the season and had outscored its opponents, 194-34. The Celts’ only loss came against Vista Murrieta, 38-20, two weeks ago.
“You always learn more from a loss. I feel they outprepared us,” Crespi coach Jon Mack said. “The boys are playing well. We’re pleased how the season is going.”
Notre Dame went 2-8 and won only one league game last year. The team has made quite a turnaround, winning its first five games of the 2011 season and entering Serra League play as a championship contender.
“They’re a year older,” Rooney said. “Most of them played last year. Experience helps keep them on the right path. We’re trying to learn from everything that has happened.”
Here’s a look at some of the other top games in the L.A. North: