Carlos Rivera, who served four years on the Birmingham soccer team on Lake Balboa, looks at the City Open Division championship game against San Pedro on Saturday at Pierce College as the culmination of a period in which he faced adversity and learned a lot.
Last spring, he broke his collarbone in the first game of the COVID-19 shortened season after months of preparation. It sent him by the wayside and made him watch in frustration, trying to recover to make sure his adult season didn’t go to waste.
He was a key player for the Patriots in attack and defense. At 6’3 ” and 285 pounds, Rivera capitalized on his size, experience and strength. Is this season catching up with last spring?
“It doesn’t really make up for it, but it gave me a chance to bounce back,” he said. “I am 100% healthy and ready to play in this championship.”
Birmingham (7-5) started the season 0-5 against the South Division teams but defeated all City Division rivals in a seven-win streak. In recent weeks, defense has stopped running after midfielder Delamonte Barnes, and offense is thriving behind receiver Arlis Bordingham.
San Pedro is well positioned to challenge the Patriots, especially if the Pirates can pass the ball to their playmaker, receiver Robert Sarmiento.
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Rivera’s presence and experience could have given the Patriots an edge. When he is healthy he is very effective and now he feels more than good.
He said the first five defeats were due to Birmingham’s inability to rally as a team. He didn’t apologize. But now he says: “In the end, we got together.”
Floyd Chock went wild: There is no greater salvation in Southern California than Senior Floyd Chok of Mission Hills Bishop Alemani.
Running behind a powerful offensive line, Chok dashes to 1,566 yards and 23 landings. Last week against Inglewood, he had 231 yards and five touchdowns. Against La Puente Bishop Amat in another playoff game, he had 293 yards and five touchdowns.
On Saturday, Bishop Alemani hosts the Orange Lutheran in a Southern Division 2 championship game.
The Warriors’ running attack was so good that running back Jaylen Thompson also comes in 1000 yards with 922 yards.
Bowl games: All Southern and Urban soccer champions will move on to the Southern California Regional Games next weekend.
Teams and pairs will be announced on Sunday afternoon CIF. Next week, Open Division members will have a date to play for the championship on December 11 at Saddleback College. Saddleback College will host five CIF State Cup games.
National attention: The California School for the Deaf in Riverside has received a lot of attention while trying to win its first soccer championship and will play at the Canoga Park Faith Baptist at JW North High in Riverside on Saturday for the 2 of 8 South Division Championship.
All players and coaches use sign language to communicate during games.
Go to number 20: Long Beach Poli is pursuing the school’s 20th football title in a Division 4 championship game in La Cañada St Francis on Saturday night.