Los Angeles Preps: Justin Alo

LA South: Five things from the weekend

January, 17, 2011
1. It didn't take long for Fairfax to realize that it wasn't in Canada anymore. Two-time state champ Westchester (16-5) dominated the Western League showdown, winning 67-40 and perhaps hinting that there might not be much competition between the two this season. Fairfax (10-5), which easily won three games at the Snowball Classic in Canada, didn't respond well to the loss. The Lions fell to University, 56-48, a night later. Both defeats came at home.

2. All of Chris Reyes' game-high 19 points came before the fourth quarter, yet La Verne Damien (15-1) managed to erase a halftime deficit and claim its first-ever victory at Chino Hills (14-4). The Spartans went into the locker room down three before winning 59-50. J.P. Chakbazof had 13 points for Sierra League-leading Damien.

3. Long Beach Poly doesn't have just one great basketball team. The girls' team is ranked No. 2 in the nation for a reason; Long Beach Wilson found that out the hard way. The Jackrabbits (14-2) forced 38 turnovers -- or more than one per minute -- in a blowout, 63-24 win over Wilson. Poly's only two losses have come against Brea Olinda.

4. Carson football coach Elijah Asante announced on his Twitter account that senior dual-threat quarterback Justin Alo (2,534 yards, 18 touchdowns) received an offer to play at Hawaii. After speaking to him following a playoff game in November, Alo -- a first-team All-City selection -- was sure he would eventually land an offer or two. He had a rough time against Crenshaw's defense in the City Championship, but he proved to be a valuable player throughout the season.

5. Alo and the Black team defeated the White team, 21-8, in the first-ever Polynesian All-American Classic at Cathedral High on Saturday. The four-day event is designed to give players one more shot at earning a college scholarship. But that doesn't mean top prospects are excluded. J.R. Tavai (Mira Costa/USC) and Junior Pomee (Rancho Verde/undecided) were among the participants.

City Division I: Crenshaw 45, Carson 7

December, 12, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- Aesthetics are a matter of opinion. Things are more beautiful to some than they are to others.

But everyone in attendance at the Coliseum on Saturday would agree that countless penalties and 12 combined turnovers made for some ugly, sloppy football.

It was a beautiful sight in Crenshaw’s eyes, though, as the Cougars captured their second straight City Section Division I title with a 45-7 win over Carson.

After all, championship trophies are always pretty.

Really, Crenshaw’s defense was its best offense, scoring three touchdowns and forcing nine turnovers. The Cougars (12-2) didn't get an offensive score until the fourth quarter, when Jerry McConico found Reggie William for a seven-yard touchdown to make it 25-0.

The Cougars picked off Carson quarterback Justin Alo five times -- three of which were returned all the way back for scores.

Crenshaw star DeAnthony Thomas scored on one of his two interceptions and added a fancy touchdown run to push the lead to 31-0.

"I just try to be a big player, you know," said the 5-foot-9 Thomas, who cried after playing his final high school game.

Thomas will be back the Coliseum next fall, with many expecting him to be an immediate impact at USC. Despite concerns about his size, he plans on being a running back at the next level.

"I can make plays on the offensive side and defensive side," Thomas said. "I’m trying to go for the Heisman (Trophy), make plays and be a leader for USC."

Thomas and teammate Marquis Thompson got emotional near the end of the game, embracing each other without an attempt to fight back tears.

"This was a young team," Thompson said. "We had to pull it together. We had to make these young dudes work hard."

The hard work paid off. Alo threw two interceptions in the first quarter, while Myles Johnson and Dion Willis each lost fumbles. Both of Alo's interceptions were returned for touchdowns -- Thomas had one of 16 yards, Shaquille Shelton had the other for 43 yards.

The Cougars weren't much better in their attempt to move the ball, which kept Carson (11-3) within striking distance. Tracy Harris intercepted McConico twice -- once in the end zone, the other near the goal line -- in the first quarter. The Colts failed to capitalize.

Alo's third interception -- this one by Qujuan Floyd -- put Crenshaw inside the Carson 10 with 23 seconds remaining in the first half. But the Cougars settled for a Jose Arias 26-yard field goal when McConico missed his receivers on consecutive throws.

Crenshaw’s offense didn’t get many style points in this one, but that didn’t seem to matter to coach Robert Garrett. When a few players tried to surprise him with the patented Gatorade bath, Garrett spotted them and opened his arms wide as if to say, “Come and get me."

Before the season, the Cougars had hoped to return to the CIF State Open Division Bowl game. Two losses to start erased those aspirations, but Thomas was proud of the way his team bounced back.

"I knew the first two games would be tough with a lot of sophomores on the team," Thomas said. "But they came through. By the sixth week we were rolling.

"A lot of us have been playing together since we were little. I’m glad we got this last win."

City Division I: An epic brewing at the Coliseum

December, 9, 2010

After Carson clinched a spot in the City Section Division I championship game last week, coach Elijah Asante went mythical on reporters, likening Crenshaw to Kraken, a powerful creature featured in the film "Clash of the Titans."

In the movie, protagonist Perseus uses the power of Medusa's snake-infested head to turn Kraken into stone. No word yet on what Carson plans to do with Crenshaw on Saturday at the Coliseum.

"I don't know what we're going to do," Asante said, "but we're going to have to come up with a plan to stop all that talent."

The plan figures to include the legs of tailbacks Dion Willis and Myles Johnson. Both surpassed the 100-yard mark in No. 1-seeded Carson's 40-21 semifinal win over Taft last Friday. It might not be Medusa's head, but if we include quarterback Justin Alo's running abilities, then consider Carson (11-2) a three-headed monster.

Will that be enough to offset defending City champion Crenshaw (11-2) and the nearly-mythical DeAnthony Thomas? The No. 2-seeded Cougars, who advanced to Saturday's 1 p.m. game with a 63-12 victory against Venice, have outscored opponents 156 to 26 in three playoff games. And while we're keeping tally, how does a 574-55 scoring streak in 11 straight wins sound?

"It's not about intimidation," Johnson said. "I mean, some dudes go out there and are intimidated. But it's Carson and Crenshaw -- that's what it's supposed to be."

City Division I: No. 25 Carson 40, Taft 21

December, 3, 2010

CARSON -- Elijah Asante might want to make a stop at the dry cleaners before he walks into the Coliseum on Saturday.

It didn't matter that it was a chilly, foggy night, as Carson players doused their first-year coach after a 40-21 win over visiting Woodland Hills Taft on Friday. The top-seeded Colts clinched a spot in the City Section Division I championship game next Saturday against No. 2-seeded Crenshaw, a 63-12 winner over Venice in the other semifinal.

"I'm warm right now," Asante said with a wide smile. "This feels good."

Carson (11-2) led just 14-7 at the half before Tyrell Galloway recovered a botched snap on Taft's first punt and returned the ball 12 yards for the score. Tailback Dion Willis pushed the lead to 26-7 minutes later with a 37-yard score.

With the clock on their side, the Colts turned to the ground game in the second half. Quarterback Justin Alo made just two throws after halftime -- one went for a 48-yard touchdown to tight end Dominique Bierria, the other fell incomplete on the ensuing two-point try.

"Our running game was strong," Alo said. "I'm all for the team. Whatever gets us that W, I'm all for it."

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LA South: Carson 26, Narbonne 23

October, 30, 2010

CARSON -- Of all the motivating factors present within Friday's Marine League battle between rivals Carson and Narbonne, it might have been the who that made the difference.

The kids. Dozens of them. Eighth-graders from around the South Bay made the trip out to Carson's Gene Vollnogle Stadium to observe both local powers and decide which school to enroll in next year. First-year Carson coach Elijah Asante called it a "battleground."

Well, it looks like Asante's Colts are only going to get better next year, because the Colts managed to hold off the Gauchos, 26-23, in an thrilling contest that came down to the final minutes. Carson quarterback Justin Alo sealed it on the ground with two big fourth-down runs and also threw for two touchdowns earlier on.

"You gotta give Alo credit," Narbonne coach Manuel Douglas said. "When the game was on the line, he took control and made the big plays as a senior quarterback."

Big plays were the Colts' best option Friday, with little else working. Junior receiver Darreus Rogers caught a 39-yard score from Alo down the Narbonne sideline in the first quarter, and 5-foot-6 senior Myles Johnson had a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave the Colts a 19-10 lead. Ronald Langdon had Carson's other first-half score on a 12-yard catch.

"We expect to make big plays all the time," Asante said. "It's what we do. It's what we rely on, and in clutch situations we will take chances.

"We don't tighten up -- we expect the kids to make big plays."

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CARSON -- 710 ESPN Radio's Beto Duran was at the Carson-San Diego Lincoln on Friday night and saw Carson hold on for a 17-9 win. He caught up with senior quarterback Justin Alo and coach Elijah Asante after the game to get their thoughts.

Alo threw two touchdown passes, had 114 yards through the air and 74 rushing yards to lead the Colts, who improved to 3-2.

Darreus Rogers and Ronald Langdon had touchdown receptions for Carson, which opens Marine League play next week against Gardena.

Carson played without tailback Myles Johnson, who sprained his ankle during practice earlier in the week.

LA South, Orange County: It's a pay-Dei for Carson

September, 4, 2010
Two plays that culminated just 13 seconds apart played a huge role in Carson's 14-10 upset of Mater Dei Saturday at Santa Ana Stadium. Actually, it was only the second play that really mattered.

Mater Dei, ranked No. 8 to Carson's No. 21 in the ESPNLA top 25, was down by a touchdown when Glen Rapheal returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown. It tied the score and turned the momentum in favor of Mater Dei midway in the second quarter.

Or so it seemed. But Dion Willis made the play of the night for Carson when he returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a score. Willis had taken the ball behind a flock of blockers then bowled up the middle as though he were headed for the lead pin. Near midfield he drifted to the right as he burst away from flailing defenders.

“One person touched me on the thigh,” said Willis, a senior who is being courted by a few Pac-10 schools. He returned one kickoff for a touchdown last season – against Banning. “I like this one way better,” he said.

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