Los Angeles Preps: Marqise Lee

Football: Look out for Serra this fall

February, 15, 2012
State bowl game appearances had become the norm at Gardena Serra in recent years. Expectations fell dramatically in 2011 following the graduation of elite talent, namely George Farmer and Marqise Lee. Still, Serra was good enough to earn a No. 1 seeding in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs, but stumbled in first-round shocker against Culver City.

The Cavaliers will be looking to bounce back this year. They have one of the region's top running backs in senior-to-be Anterio Bateman, and there's a crop of young talent moving up the ranks.

Quarterback Jalen Greene, athlete Jordan Lasley and linebacker Dwight Williams were among a handful of elite sophomores invited to USC's prestigious "Junior Day" camp last week.

Bateman averaged over nine yards per carry last season despite being limited by a nagging ankle injury. Greene accumulated more than 2,000 yards of offense and had 17 total touchdowns in a dual-threat role. Lasley transferred in from Carson, where he was the heir apparent to all-City Section honoree Darreus Rogers. Williams is the team's leading returning tackler.

Serra opens the season in late August against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame before leaving the state for a game in Utah.

No. 25 Serra 35, No. 15 Chaminade 29

November, 12, 2011

GARDENA -- As it turns out, stories about Serra's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Yes, the Cavaliers graduated a boatload of talent and are still greener than broccoli, but there they were Friday night, storming the field after another Mission League championship win.

Young and inexperienced Serra held on to beat Chaminade, 35-29, in a thrilling game that featured five lead changes. A group of Cavaliers tried to douse coach Scott Altenberg with icy water but couldn't, proving how ripe they really are.

"That's our team in a nutshell," Altenberg said. "They tried to dump me with water, they tripped and dumped it on themselves."

It could have been easy for Serra (8-2, 5-0) to make excuses given the lack of star power. This team doesn't have the lucrative names like in years past. No Robert Woods, no Marqise Lee or George Farmer.

None of that mattered.

Ronnie Vaughn rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore quarterback Jalen Greene had 217 total yards plus the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter to carry the Cavaliers. Chaminade (8-2, 4-1), ranked No. 15 in the ESPN Los Angeles Top 25, had the ball with 1:18 remaining and 90 yards to go but couldn't generate magic. Logan Scott's last-second heave from the Serra 37 sailed wide of the end zone, and Serra players stormed the field.

"A lot of things were going through my head," Greene said. "I was nervous and I didn't even want to watch the play, but I was just hoping, 'Please don't catch this ball, please pick it, just let us get this W tonight.' "

Vaughn's 23-yard touchdown run had given No. 25-ranked Serra a comfortable 35-22 advantage with 5:57 left. Less than 40 seconds later, Scott responded with a clutch 76-yard scoring pass to Kevin Lewallyn, cutting the deficit to 35-29. Chaminade caught Serra napping and recovered the ensuing onside kick but couldn't capitalize, turning the ball over on downs.

The Eagles had taken a brief lead on Terrell Newby’s 47-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers were without leading rusher Anterio Bateman, who was on crutches and had his left ankle in a cast. His absence didn’t appear to affect the running game -- Greene, Vaughn and Malik Roberson combined for 224 rushing in the first half alone. Greene finished with 140 rushing yards in 13 carries.

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Football: No. 25 Gardena Serra

August, 19, 2011
When it comes to talented prep football teams in the Southland, seemingly no group has enjoyed as much recent success as Gardena Serra. The roster this season, mind you, might not be loaded with multiple high-profile players, as it has been in the past. Nevertheless, the Cavaliers figure to build on their 44-4 record the last four years and be a force to be reckon with once again.

In order to maintain their reputation as one of the best around, Serra needs to find ways to keep Raymond Ford involved on the offense side of the ball. The senior receiver, after all, is the heir apparent to George Farmer, now at USC. Ford has the potential to be the playmaker Farmer was last season when he played alongside fellow wideout Marqise Lee, also currently with the Trojans.

One potential problem: There are lingering questions about who is going to get the ball into the hands of Ford.

It appears as if sophomore Jalen Greene is the front-runner to win the starting quarterback job. If he falters, Ryan Barbarin patiently waits in the wings and the junior would like nothing more than the opportunity to prove himself.

Here is a closer look at the Cavaliers:

Team: Gardena Serra

Coach: Scott Altenberg, 13th year

2010 Record: 14-1, won CIF Southern Section Western Division championship.

Returning starters: Five total. Three on defense. Two on offense.

Key players on offense: WR Raymond Ford (UCLA commit), RB Anterio Bateman.

Key players on defense: S Patrick Wooten, DT Kris Cooper, DT Kache Palacio, LB Thomas Brown.

Difference maker: It begins and ends with Ford, also a shut-down corner in the secondary. George Farmer and Marqise Lee are gone. A season ago, the seniors were the Southland's premier pass-catching tandem. Both are at USC now. Ford will be expected to fill the void left behind and the senior appears capable of handling the additional workload.

Newcomers: Brown, a transfer from Long Beach St. Anthony. Palacio, a transfer from Los Angeles Westchester. QB Jalen Greene. QB Ryan Barbarin.

Not to be missed: at West Hills Chaminade, Friday, Nov. 11. There will be tons of tests along the way, to be sure. None of those games, however, figure to be as important as the season finale in the San Fernando Valley in a showdown with Mission League title implications. The Eagles hope to make a statement with a win and will likely give Serra all it can handle in this one.

Coach’s comment: “We haven't lost many games around here in the recent past, and because of that, we have a target on our backs. Some people might think we don't have the big names anymore and there will be plenty of teams gunning for us. That's the way things work, it's the nature of the beast. Our job is to make sure there is not a huge drop off in our level of play.”

Final analysis: Replacing Framer and Lee will not be easy. QB Conner Preston also graduated, having moved on to SMU. Season-ending injuries to OLB Ardis Perez and MLB Malachi Mageo a couple of weeks ago certainly does not help matters. Bottom line: Ford must stretch the field vertically to keep opposing defenses honest and Bateman needs to take advantage of open running lanes when the situation presents itself. If that happens, Serra figures to be in position to make, yet another, postseason run.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

LA South: Five things from the weekend

May, 16, 2011
1. Not exactly the ending the Mira Costa boys' volleyball team had in mind, as the top-seeded Mustangs were shocked by Mater Dei in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs Saturday, 29-27, 20-25, 25-14, 18-25, 15-9. The Monarchs used a 7-1 run in the final game to pull off the upset at their home court. Mira Costa, which lost in the CIF title match last year, finished with a 33-2 record.

2. Marqise Lee (Gardena Serra) and Beejay Lee (West Covina) set new track and field marks on Saturday. Marqise Lee's long jump of 24 feet 8 inches at the Division 4 prelims was the best in the country this year. At the Division 1 Prelims, Beejay Lee registered a time of 21:00 in the 200 meters, the best in California this year. Marqise Lee's teammate, sprinter George Farmer did not participate because of an ankle injury.

3. Keppel High doesn't have a pool on its campus but that didn't stop the Aztecs from claiming the boys and girls CIF titles at the Division 3 swimming and diving championships Saturday. Keppel is making a habit of winning without the proper resources -- it was the girls' fourth title in the last five years and boys' third in five years. According to the Pasadena Star-News, Keppel, which is located in Alhambra, must travel more than a mile to train and host meets at Barnes Park in Monterey Park.

4. There are exclamation points and then there's what the Bonita baseball team did Friday. The Bearcats, ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 3, capped their regular season with a 19-2 win at Diamond Ranch. Justin Row led off with a monster home run to left and the demolition was on. K.C. Huth and Robert Mieradded back-to-back home runs in the second, and the Hacienda League champion Bearcats scored 11 in the fourth to finish with a 24-4 record. Head coach John Knott couldn't have asked for better momentum heading into the playoffs.

5. West Covina standout Chris Solomontook his talents to the Bay Area and participated in the Nike SPARQ Combine in Oakland after missing the showcase in Long Beach last month. The tailback/safety showed why he's garnering more attention in the recruiting world, being named the top rising senior by ESPN Rise. He ran a 4,58 40-yard dash, logged a 3.97 shuttle time and ranked third with a SPARQ rating of 106.17. Solomon has offers from Arizona State and Colorado.

LA South: Five things from the weekend

May, 9, 2011
1. On Saturday, Bishop Amat's Kylie Price won the girls' 100 meters at the Del Rey League finals, registering the fastest time in California this year at 11.75. Serra's George Farmer, a receiver bound for USC in the fall, won the boys' 100 with a time of 10.59. Current Serra teammate -- and future USC teammate -- Marqise Lee came in second at 10.87.

2. The Keppel badminton team won its second consecutive CIF Southern Section championship Saturday, ousting Diamond Bar 12-9. Keppel won all eight of the boys matches; Diamond Bar won all eight of the girls matches. The Aztecs took it by winning four of the five mixed doubles.

3. Pitcher Franny Vaaulu paced the Warren softball team to the La Mirada Showcase Tournament title Saturday. Vaaulu didn't start because she had to take the SAT exam, but was nearly untouchable when she arrived, giving up only one hit and striking out 10 in the 5-2 win over California. It was Warren's 15th straight win. The Bears (21-3) went into the week ranked No. 5 in Division 3.

4. The Mira Costa boys' volleyball team will have a target on its back on the road to redemption. The Mustangs (31-1) received the No. 1 seed in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs Sunday. The Bay League winners lost to Loyola in the CIF title match last year. "We're finally healthy and the kids are motivated," Mira Costa co-coach Mike Ninnis told the Daily Breeze. "They're ready for the playoffs."

5. Another baseball game between Lakewood and Compton, another 29-run margin of victory for the Lancers. Lakewood followed up its 30-1 win over Compton from April 6 with a 29-0 drubbing on Friday. Nick Torres, Jimmy Gosano and Zach Alofaituli each scored four runs. The Lancers (25-4-1, 10-1) weren't expected to win the Moore League, but they clinched at least a share of the title with the victory. They can win it outright by beating Long Beach Jordan on Wednesday.

SoCal football recruiting primer

February, 1, 2011
Who's still on the board? With signing day rapidly approaching, here's a look at what top un-committed players from Southern California are still out there (or those from out of the area considering USC, UCLA or both) and who they're currently considering.

ATH Marqise Lee (Gardena, Calif./Serra) -- USC, Oregon, Miami, Cal, UCLA
Lee has been a strong lean to USC for weeks now and that's where the smart money should be. Oregon and Miami are still pushing hard, Cal hasn't given up and Lee took an unofficial visit to UCLA on Sunday and reportedly clicked very well with new OC and WR coach Mike Johnson. Lee will announce at noon PT on Fox Sports West.

WR Devin Lucien (Encino, Calif./Crespi) -- Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, Utah, Miami
Lucien could go several different directions and the only surprise would be if he picked Utah, since he has never visited the campus. UCLA was thought to be the early favorite but ASU and Colorado are right there at the top as well. Lucien is looking to play early and the depth chart at Colorado is wide open. The coaches at ASU have been relentless and his visit to Miami might have been his favorite. Lucien will announce at 3 p.m. PT.

DB Ryan Henderson (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde) -- Utah, USC
Henderson committed early to Utah but took an official visit to USC a few weeks ago and was blown away by the Trojans. USC was Henderson's dream school growing up, it's close to home and it's where his family wants him. The corner enjoyed his visit to Utah but look for him to sign with the Trojans.

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LA South: Football All-CIF teams

January, 28, 2011
The following is a list of players and coaches who garnered top honors on All-CIF teams, sorted by division:


Offensive player of the year: QB Nick Bueno, Monrovia
Defensive player of the year: LB Derrick Johnson, Monrovia
Coach of the year: Ryan Maddox, Monrovia


Defensive player of the year: DL J.R. Tavai, Mira Costa


Defensive player of the year: Eric Capachione, South Torrance


Offensive player of the year: HB Chris Solomon, West Covina
Defensive player of the year: LB Maurice Dupleasis, West Covina
Coach of the year: Mike Maggiore, West Covina


Offensive player of the year: WR George Farmer, Serra
Defensive player of the year: S Marqise Lee, Serra
Coach of the year: Scott Altenberg, Serra

For a list of all the All-CIF-Southern Section football teams, click this link.

CIF State Div. II Bowl: Folsom 48, Serra 20

December, 18, 2010

CARSON -- It slipped away in the downpour.

Serra coach Scott Altenberg wouldn't use the rain as an excuse, but the wet conditions had an effect on his team.

The usually fleet-footed Cavaliers were forced to slow down. Folsom capitalized on a flurry of Serra mistakes, turning a tight contest into a resounding 48-20 win in the CIF Division II state championship Saturday at the Home Depot Center.

Serra trailed by one heading to the fourth quarter, but Folsom converted three turnovers into three touchdowns in a mere 1:14 for a 21-point lead.

"The conditions definitely affected us a little bit," Altenberg said. "But Folsom's a great football team. You don't take anything away from them. They played well."

The Cavaliers (14-1) committed five turnovers -- all in the second half. Dual-threat quarterback Dano Graves threw for three touchdowns, ran for three more and had 297 yards of total offense for Folsom (14-1).

"This is amazing," Graves said. "One of the best feelings of my life. We're going to Disneyland. I'm not kidding about that; we're really going to Disneyland."

Graves' play was magical throughout. Folsom took the opening kickoff 77 yards and claimed a quick 7-0 lead on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Graves to Tyler Trosin two plays later. The Bulldogs doubled their lead shortly after on another Graves-to-Trosin hookup, this one for 42 yards.

"We had a lot of momentum," Graves said.

(Read full post)

CIF State Div. II Bowl: Folsom vs. Serra

December, 18, 2010
WHO: Folsom (13-1) vs. Serra (14-0)
WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Home Depot Center
TV: FSN Prime Ticket

There was never any doubt that Serra would be here, a win away from its second consecutive state football crown.

With all that collegiate talent -- especially at the skill positions -- Serra's spot at the Home Depot Center was all but secured. On paper, the Cavaliers appeared unstoppable and it translated onto the field with Conner Preston slinging it to stud wideouts George Farmer and Marqise Lee. Their closest call came in a Mission League battle at West Hills Chaminade in early November, but even then, Serra erased a fourth-quarter deficit, turned on the jets and left with a two-touchdown win.

Sixteen weeks after it began, Western Division champion Serra might have finally met its match.

At least it looks that way on paper.

Folsom, which qualified for the bowl game by winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title, has scored fewer than 49 points just twice all season. The Bulldogs have won 13 in a row and average a staggering 52 points per game.

A lot more stands out on Folsom's rap sheet, specifically quarterback Dano Graves' ridiculous numbers. He has passed for 3,488 yards and 59 touchdowns and rushed for 20 more scores. That's a total of 79 touchdowns, or 34 more than Serra's Preston (42 passing, three rushing).

But the big number here might be 29 -- as in the number of consecutive wins for Serra, the state's longest current streak. And remember, the Cavaliers return to the site of last year's Division III bowl game victory. Folsom will be making its bowl game debut, so the nod goes to Serra in the not-so-wide-eyed category.

No matter how you slice it, the game promises to be a close, back-and-forth battle.

For Serra, it only took 16 weeks.

Western Division: Serra 35, Arroyo Grande 10

December, 10, 2010

GARDENA -- Domonique Vaughn and Tavita Tua'au did their best to hide the oversized bucket of Gatorade from Scott Altenberg. And it nearly worked, that is, until the Serra High football coach saw the two lineman coming in his direction.

Altenberg avoided most of the messy downpour, but the celebration took place nonetheless after the Cavaliers defeated visiting Arroyo Grande with relative ease on Friday night, 35-10, to successfully defend their Southern Section Western Division title.

"I tried to dip and duck at the last second, but what the heck, a little Gatorade never hurt anyone,'' Altenberg said. "What a win. What a feeling.''

Serra's George Farmer was feeling pretty good during the postgame festivities as well. After all, the senior wide receiver, one of the top recruits in the country, committed to USC prior to the kickoff.

"USC is a good fit for me, the campus is right in my backyard and I feel comfortable with the coaching staff,'' Farmer said. "I spoke with Lane Kiffin before the game tonight and told him that I was a Trojan.''

Arroyo Grande’s Seth Jacobs fumbled to open the fourth quarter and Woodson Greer recovered the ball at the Eagles' 30-yard line. And it didn't take long for Serra to score as Conner Preston connected with Marqise Lee on a 17-yard touchdown to give the Cavaliers a 35-3 lead with 8:34 remaining in the game.

With the game's outcome no longer in doubt,Brent Vanderveen threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Owens to cut the insurmountable Serra lead to 25 points with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter.

"We came into this game knowing that we weren't going to lose,'' Farmer said. "Winning back-to-back titles was our goal all season and we finally accomplished it. We're the best, No. 1.''

Farmer appeared to score in a 60-yard punt return midway through the third quarter, but a penalty nullified the long touchdown. Instead, Serra started at its own 18-yard line and began mounting a drive that ultimately stalled when Preston was stopped on a fourth and seven at the Eagles 25-yard line.

Staked to 21-3 lead in the second quarter, the Cavaliers refused to slow down their high-powered offense. Accordingly, Preston found Lee wide open for a 15-yard touchdown to not only increase the lead to 25 points with 6:43 left in the first half, but also essentially break the spirit of Arroyo Grande.

"I mean, who goes out and wins two championships in-a-row? We do.'' Lee said. "We made sure to stay level-headed all year long, now it's time to enjoy things. Our hard work paid off.''

For as bad as things were for the Eagles in the first half, they could have been worse. The Cavaliers moved the ball down to the Arroyo Grande 10-yard line with less than a minute left in the second quarter, but they failed to capitalize on the opportunity when Francisco Ollouqui missed a 27-yard field goal.

When all was said and done, the Eagles had 48 yards of total offense and managed mere two first downs in the first half.

In comparison, Serra's Shaquille Richard gained 109 yards on the ground by himself over the course of the opening 24 minutes of play. Arroyo Grande had no answer for the senior.

"I owe a lot to my line, they were opening up the holes, all I had to do was run through them, it was that easy,'' said Richard, who finished with 162 yards on 23 carries.

Following a first quarter punt, Arroyo Grande received the ball back on the Serra 37-yard line. Three relatively unsuccessful running plays later, the Eagles faced a crucial fourth and two situation. Instead of going for the first down, they ended up letting the play clock run out and were assessed a 5-yard penalty.

It didn’t matter, Owens trotted out and booted a 51-yard field that would have seemingly been good from 55 yards out to give Arroyo Grande a surprising 3-0 advantage with 6:23 remaining in the first quarter.

Serra answered, Richard in particular. The senior gained 47 yards on three carries to set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Preston to Lee. And all of sudden, the lead was 7-3 with 4:16 left in the first quarter.

The Cavaliers were just getting started.

Farmer appeared to return a punt deep into Arroyo Grande territory. However, a pair of costly penalties backed Serra up to its own 13-yard line. Minutes later, Farmer was on the receiving end of a 59-yard touchdown pass from Preston to extend the advantage to 14-3 with :52 remaining on the first quarter clock.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles’ L.T. Johnson fumbled the ball. Pete Lauderdale was in the right place at the right time, scooped up the miscue and returned the ball 27 yards for a score to give the Cavaliers a 21-3 with :39 left in the first quarter.

Preston finished 9-of-20 for 155 yards. Lee had three receptions for 48 yards. Farmer ended up two catches for 64 yards.

Recruiting: The top 25 players in SoCal

November, 10, 2010
Recruiting expert Greg Biggins has spent the last two months breaking down the best players in the West region for ESPNLA.com. Links to his previous posts are below.

But since we're ESPNLA.com, we asked Biggins to give us a comprehensive list of the best players in the Southern Section and City Section of the CIF.

Here is Biggins' list of the best SoCal has to offer, regardless of position.

The list includes three players from Gardena Serra and two apiece from Crenshaw, Mater Dei and, Lakewood. Listed after each player is their current college commitment. If nothing is listed, it means the player is undecide. Six of Biggins' top 25 SoCal players are committed to USC.

Letters of intent can be signed beginning Feb. 2.

1. DeAnthony Thomas, 5-9, 160, ATH, Crenshaw (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- USC
2. George Farmer, 6-2, 210, WR, Serra (Gardena, Calif.)
3. Greg Townsend, 6-3, 260, DL, Beverly Hills (Calif.)
4. Marqise Lee, 6-1, 190, ATH, Serra (Gardena, Calif.)
5. Todd Barr, 6-3, 265, DL, Lakewood (Calif.)
6. Victor Blackwell, 6-1, 190, WR, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) -- USC
7. Devon Blackmon, 6-0, 160, WR, Summit (Fontana, Calif.)
8. Jason Gibson, 6-3, 220, DE, Serra (Gardena, Calif.)
9. Tre Madden, 6-1, 215, LB, Mission Viejo (Calif.) -- USC
10. Kelsey Young, 5-10, 185, RB, Norco (Calif.) -- Stanford
11. Antwaun Woods, 6-1, 325, DT, Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.) -- USC
12. Max Wittek, 6-4, 215, QB, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) -- USC
13. Junior Pomee, 6-3, 215, TE, Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley, Calif.)
14. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, 5-9, 185, CB, Chino Hills (Calif.)
15. Troy Niklas, 6-7, 260, ATH, Servite (Anaheim, Calif.)
16. Devon Moreland, 6-3, 215, DE, Salesian (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Southern Methodist
17. Jeff Worthy, 6-4, 275, DT, Whittier Christian (La Habra, Calif.) -- Boise State
18. Jalen Jefferson, 6-2, 200, LB, St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.) -- California
19. Rahim Cassell, 6-1, 205, LB, Lakewood (Calif.) -- Oregon
20. Corey Waller, 6-3, 210, LB, Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)
21. Isaac Luatua, 6-2, 290, OL, La Mirada (Calif.) -- Alabama
22. Devin Lucien, 6-1, 190, WR, Crespi (Encino, Calif.)
23. DeVante Wilson, 6-4, 230, DE, Corona (Calif.)
24. Marcus Martin, 6-3, 350, OL, Crenshaw (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- USC
25. Patrick Onwuasor, 6-2, 190, ATH, Inglewood (Calif.)

West region positional breakdowns:
Defensive ends
Defensive tackles
Tight ends
Wide receivers
Running backs
Offensive linemen

Greg Biggins is an occasional contributor to the ESPNLA.com Preps Blog. For more recruiting news, check out his Insider blog on West Coast recruiting.

LA South and LA North: No. 5 Serra 35, No. 24 Chaminade 21

November, 5, 2010
WEST HILLS -- It took quite a while for the Serra High football team to get its vaunted offense started. But once the unit finally figured things out, Chaminade had little chance.

Entering the fourth quarter Friday night, the visiting Cavaliers trailed by a touchdown. However, they scored 21 unanswered points the rest of the way to defeat the upset-minded Eagles, 35-21, and take over sole possession of first place in the Mission League.

"Chaminade gave us a scare, I can tell you that much,'' Serra coach Scott Altenberg said. "It took us a little while to get our offense going, but once we finally found our comfort zone, they couldn’t stop us. Once we started clicking, it was pretty much over.’’

Serra (9-0, 4-0), No . 5 in ESPNLosAngeles.com's Top 25 rankings, trailed for a majority of the first three quarters. As for the Eagles (8-1, 3-1), No. 24 in ESPNLA poll, they played with inspiration and created some doubt in the minds of their heavily favored opponent.

In the fourth quarter, Marqise Lee made sure to change of all that though. He scored on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Conner Preston to give Serra a 28-21 advantage with 3:25 left.

Any hopes Chaminade might have had at making an improbable comeback were all but ruined when Shaquille Richard scored on an 8-yard run to extend the lead to 35-21 with 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were demoralized, to be sure.

(Read full post)

LA North: Two is better than one at Crespi

November, 3, 2010

Sean Ceglinsky/Special to ESPNLA.com
Devin Lucien, left, and Chris Harper form one of the most potent receiving duos in the Southern Section.

Pick your poison, Devin Lucien or Chris Harper. But before making the decision about which Encino Crespi High receiver to double-team on the football field, know this, there’s no good answer. More than a few opposing coaches can attest after having made the wrong choice this season.

Week in and week out, Lucien and Harper have combined to play about as well as any other wideout tandem in the Southland. And as a result, the Celts are still alive and well in the postseason playoff picture heading into Friday night’s Serra League game against visiting Los Angeles Loyola at 7 p.m.

“Devin and Chris bring so much to the table, it’s crazy. Those guys make my job a whole lot easier,’’ Crespi quarterback Kenny Stenhouse said. “Lucien is big, fast and athletic, he’s the total package, no doubt. Harper runs great routes and catches everything thrown his way, he’s a handful to deal with.’’

Lucien and Harper compare rather favorably to some of the more talented pass-catching teammates residing in Southern California. Of course, Gardena Serra’s George Farmer and Marqise Lee instantly come to mind. And there's also Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Victor Blackwell and Sedric Hill.

For all intents and purposes, Lucien is the more polished of the two outside threats for the Celts. He is, after all, an experienced senior. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has scholarship offers from several NCAA Division I programs and leads Crespi with 45 receptions for 860 yards and 12 touchdowns.

(Read full post)

Serra's George Farmer takes his talents in stride

October, 10, 2010

Courtesy of Anthony Watson
Teams have been paying extra attention to Serra's George Farmer this season, but that hasn't stopped the senior from having an impact in every game he plays.

As George Farmer breaks from the huddle at midfield, the Gardena Serra High receiver makes sure to take a quick glance downfield before lining up at his customary position on the outside. Sizing up the competition is necessary. In fact, it’s a must considering he is one of the country’s premier pass-catchers at the prep level and all too familiar with what awaits next.

A cornerback shadows him, quickly moving directly in front of Farmer before the ball is snapped, mere yards away, apparently hoping to rough him up a bit with some bump-and-run coverage. He notices a linebacker taking a big step to his left, as if to gesture that there’s trouble looming ahead. Out of the corner of his eye, Farmer sees a safety rolling over to his side of the football field in what figures to be yet another attempt at double-teaming him over the top.

Following the snap of the ball, a quick stutter step at the line of scrimmage creates separation. A head-and-shoulders fake by Farmer freezes the would-be tackler at the second level. An uncanny burst of speed follows, enabling him to blow by the last line of defense in the secondary.

Nothing stands in between him and the end zone now. Nevertheless, the pass ends up in the hands of a teammate for a first down instead of going to Farmer for a touchdown. It’s a scenario that has been played out time and again, thus all the extra attention being paid to the 6-foot-2, 200-plus pound senior.

Surely, Farmer would’ve liked to be on the receiving end of the completion for six points, similar to the way he has done many times in the past. However, he’s smart enough to understand deflecting the spotlight on occasion isn’t the worst thing in the world, and ultimately, it’s his unselfishness that separates him from his peers.

"People might be surprised to hear a guy like George doesn’t demand the ball on each and every play, he’s one of the country’s best players, most kids with that kind of status tend to have big egos," Serra coach Scott Altenberg said of Farmer, who ESPNU ranks as the nation’s No.2 wideout and 13th prospect overall.

“George is different, he’s very humble, he's a throwback kind of player in some ways. He knows we have 11 players on offense that are more than capable of contributing on any given Friday night. He gets it, he's unique in that sense. George is one of those guys who makes everyone around him better because he’s willing to do the little things on the field that don’t always show up in the box score at the end of games. He knows that there’s bigger things than just personal statistics.’’

(Read full post)

LA South: No. 5 Serra 48, Narbonne 22

October, 1, 2010

GARDENA -- Marqise Lee spread his arms wide, slowly swaying his body from one side to the other as he glided toward the Serra sideline.

Four times he did it and four times he was interrupted mid-flight, elated teammates getting to him before he reached the bench. And with a never-ending stream of airplanes descending in the background all game long, Lee's gesture was only appropriate.

Lee caught four touchdown passes and had 184 yards receiving Friday night, helping No. 5 Serra fly past visiting Narbonne, 48-22.

"It was my first time doing it," Lee said of his celebration method. "I was so hyped for this game. We don't get to play against a City Section team often."

Lee made it count -- all but one of his grabs went for scores -- and exceeded even his own expectations.

"My mindset was to come out and get three (touchdowns) because Narbonne was doing some talking," Lee said.

His output became all the more important when fellow receiver George Farmer suffered a hip injury early. Farmer limped his way through the remainder of the first half and was held out once the Cavaliers raced out to a 34-0 halftime lead.

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