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Football: Going for the most improved award

September 22, 2011 | 12:05 pm

A year ago, Birmingham and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame each finished 2-8. Now they meet Friday night with 3-0 records. The players and teams have improved.

Birmingham's first-string offense has hardly played the last two weeks in the second half because the team has been so far in front in wins over Belmont, 45-0, and Grant, 56-0.

"It's going to let us know where we're at," Birmingham Coach Jim Rose said.

Big plays have helped the Patriots, who have eight returns for touchdowns either by interceptions, punts or kickoffs. Marcus Harris has returned two punts for scores, and Upton Jones has returned two interceptions and a kickoff for touchdowns.

Notre Dame is trying to prepare for the tough Serra League, with a league opener scheduled in three weeks against Encino Crespi.

-- Eric Sondheimer