Football: What a game, what a season
After about three hours sleep after feeling the excitement and seeing the amazing performances in the Oaks Christian-Westlake game, all I can say is thank you to the players, coaches and fans for perhaps the greatest game I've covered since I started writing about high school sports in 1976.
I didn't think Oaks Christian could win, and they did, 29-28. "That was our motivation, everyone telling us we couldn't win," Oaks Christian receiver Blair Holliday said.
Oaks Christian made remarkable improvement over the course of the season. It's a tribute to its coaches and a group of players who showed resiliency and learned from their mistakes.
The Marmonte League lived up to its hype and more. Oaks Christian (12-2), Westlake (12-2) and St. Bonaventure (11-2) were about as even as they come. Each took turns beating each other. And that was the problem. No one could beat the other twice. I've seen that scenario many times in the City Section. Taft would beat Birmingham in the regular season, then lose in the playoffs.
Oaks Christian should be thankful it wasn't playing St. Bonaventure in the final, because the Seraphs lost to the Lions in overtime in league play. Oaks Christian got the team it lost to on Oct. 1, Westlake, 31-12.
Get used to the idea of having to beat a top team twice, because all three teams are loaded with young talent and will be back to do this all over again next season.
Westlake's backup quarterback, Justin Moore, only a sophomore, will be a great replacement for the fantastic Nick Isham. All those young, talented Oaks Christian players, like Ishmael Adams, Carlos Mendoza, Marcus Piechowski and Jordan Payton, will be back trying for an eighth Southern Section title for the Lions and Coach Bill Redell. And St. Bonaventure may be the best team on paper, led by quarterback Marc Evans.
Now I'm off to the Coliseum for the City Section Division I final between Carson and Crenshaw, then headed to Angel Stadium for the Pac-5 final between Servite and Mission Viejo. Both could be classic games, too.
The point is the drama was great, the atmosphere was electric and I predict the people at Fox Sports West will be re-playing the game every season for many to come.
-- Eric Sondheimer