Local coaches pick the winner of UCLA-USC game
Their programs have produced many of the players who will be representing UCLA and USC when their football rivalry is renewed on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. So The Times contacted 20 prominent high school coaches from across the Southland and asked them for their opinion on the game. Here’s what they said:
Scott Altenberg, Gardena Serra: “My two kids finally get to experience a UCLA victory, hopefully giving them the opportunity to not grow up as a generation of the L.A. version of a Cubs fan. Robert Woods and Marqise Lee both go for 200 yards in the loss. I’m happy I don’t have any UCLA DBs from Serra.’’ Pick: UCLA.
Coley Candaele, Vista Murrieta: “If I can pick with my mind, it’s USC. If I can pick with my heart, it’s UCLA. I’m in bad situation. I can’t take one, because my wife will kill me. I’ll be sleeping on the couch for a week. She’s been in a bad mood for a decade. Can it be tie?” Pick: UCLA.
Ed Croson, West Hills Chaminade: “USC will win because my assistants, Dennis Keyes and Aron Gideon, aren’t playing for UCLA.” Pick: USC.
Manuel Douglas, Narbonne: “UCLA is playing so much more consistently and better football for four quarters, but I have seen Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and George Farmer up close and in person, and those guys are so good. UCLA was smart enough to offer Troy Williams, and USC doesn’t think he or any other Narbonne player is good enough to play for them.” Pick: UCLA.
Angelo Gasca, Venice: “Maybe if they’re smart enough to keep handing off the ball to Curtis McNeal, they’ll win the game.” Pick: USC.
Lorenzo Hernandez, Los Angeles Garfield: “I have to go with the underdog, as I can relate very well.” Pick: UCLA.
Dean Herrington, Mission Hills Alemany: “I think it’s going to go into overtime and USC is going to win despite my wife thinking UCLA is going to win.” Pick: USC.
Paul Knox, Los Angeles Dorsey: “It’s going to be a high scoring game and UCLA’s defense is going to make a play to change the game.” Pick: UCLA.
Bob Johnson, Mission Viejo: “I think it’s a bad matchup for UCLA. But I have players on both teams and root for both.” Pick: USC.
Matt Logan, Corona Centennial: “I think USC has more firepower, especially at the receiver position. It’s going to be a high-scoring game.” Pick: USC.
Don Morrow, Manhattan Beach Mira Costa: “UCLA has been the hotter team and Coach Mora’s newness might be able to get them over the top.” Pick: UCLA.
Larry Muir, Valencia: “UCLA by 10. It could be more if USC doesn’t deflate the balls.” Pick: UCLA.
Jason Negro, Bellflower St. John Bosco: “I am going to have to go with USC in a shootout. Both offenses are playing at a very high level and the team with the ball last wins.” Pick: USC.
Kevin Pearson, L.A. Cathedral: “They both have prolific offenses, but UCLA looks like they’re focused with a purpose.” Pick: UCLA.
Bruce Rollinson, Santa Ana Mater Dei: “The Trojan horse is very comfortable riding around the Rose Bowl. I think the experience of big games leans a little bit toward Matt Barkley and the Trojans.” Pick: USC.
Tim Salter, Upland: “UCLA has made a huge improvement at the quarterback position in one year, but I just think if things get close, Matt Barkley is going to get the job done.” Pick: USC.
Todd Therrien, Ventura St. Bonaventure: “I think the defense is going to show up and play for this game.” Pick: USC.
Harry Welch, Santa Margarita: “It’s the best UCLA team in many years, disciplined and tough. I think right now USC has so much more talent and is embarrassed and needs to make a statement.” Pick: USC.
Dave White, Huntington Beach Edison: “USC’s offense is too explosive.” Pick: USC.
Photo: Chaminade Coach Ed Croson in his office. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times