Thursday, December 2, 2021

High school football: Inglewood beat St. Bonaventure playoffs

Football fanatics couldn’t help but be more excited for the first high school playoff game in two years on Friday night at Ventura College. The scene was straight out of a detective story: thick fog, 50s temperature, the smell of 120 pounds of a three-tipped grill, and two teams warming up in matching green T-shirts (St. Bonaventure wore gold helmets, Inglewood white).

In the end, Inglewood switched to white jerseys in the first leg of the Southern Division 2 playoffs, and the number 12 (9-0) Sentinels have shown they are not going to be distracted by last week’s controversy in which they posted 106 points. They completely outplayed the number 5 Seraphs to win 26-10 in a quarterfinal game at El Camino College the following week against Huntington Beach Edison.

Inglewood sparked a nationwide debate about athletic prowess after beating neighbor rival Morningside 106-0 last week and carrying out a 104-0 two-point conversion. Inglewood principal, Debbie Tate, issued a letter of apology on Monday stating that her school “does not behave in a sporty and fair manner.” The South Branch condemned Inglewood’s actions and is still awaiting the results of the school district’s investigation.

Friday was an attempt to move forward, and the Sentinels clearly did. They have unleashed their talented college-trained athletes, from fugitive defender Tomarion Harden (UCLA commitment) to midfielder Taarik Al-Ukda (Washington State commitment). Harden dashed 132 yards in 20 strikes and scored one touch. Al-Uqdah was on the defensive all over the field, scoring two touchdowns and catching a two-point assist.

Another impressive player was junior Jamari Johnson, who had two sacks in the first half and caught a pass 60 yards from quarterback Justin Martin (UCLA commit). Martin completed 14 of 23 assists for 188 yards and one touch with two interceptions.

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Due to the speed of the Inglewood defense and the inability of St. Bonaventure to pass the attack, the Seraphim lost 20-3 at half-time. The Saint Bonaventure attack consisted of passing the ball 13 times to Delon Thompson, who rushed 71 yards. He finished 98 yards in 22 transfers. Saint Bonaventure’s only first-half result was a 28-yard field goal by Leilani Armenta after the Seraphim pulled out an awkward punt. Seraphim have lost starting quarterback Manny Rosales to injury after being fired in the first quarter.

Harden hit a 14-yard touchdown and Justus Ross-Simmons caught a 15-yard touchdown from Martin to give Inglewood a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. This left St. Bonaventure unable to fulfill the game plan, which was to manage the clock with effective running play. Inglewood’s defense denied much play other than Thompson’s 28-yard run. The Seraphim landed in the fourth quarter after intercepting Nick Miller.

Inglewood has gone from 0-10 in 2018 to one of the last eight teams in Division 2. The Guardians played in Division 13 in 2019 and continued their ascent with the help of rookies.

Inglewood made the final touchdown with 21 seconds remaining, then fell on his knee in a two-point conversion attempt.

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