It’s no coincidence that the University of Southern California sports not one, not two, but three former players from Serra High of Gardena on their active roster.
The private school Cavaliers list an enrollment of just 648 through the Southern Section, but sport a roster of 71 and are a reputed champion of California football with continued dominance is the SS.
Serra has won three straight SS titles, has appeared in four of the last five SS title games and sports the honor of having previously appeared in state bowl games (2009 and 2010).
It’s Serra that Oakdale will face on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Home Depot Center in Carson for the 2012 California Interscholastic Federation State Football Championship Bowl Game.
Oakdale (14-1) earned the honor of appearing in the game when they ousted Clayton Valley 27-24 on Saturday in the NorCal Regional Championship. The day prior, Serra (13-2) toppled Edison to win the SoCal Regional Championship.
Serra is ranked No. 6 in the state by Calhisports.com and No. 8 by maxpreps.com. (also No. 31 nationally). Oakdale is No. 50 on maxpreps and sits beyond top-25 as an honorable mention consideration on Calhisports polls.
Oakdale’s only loss was 34-14 to an Oceanside team (12-1, San Diego Section Champs) that CIF officials passed over in favor of Edison and Serra for the SoCal Bowl.
Serra fell 22-9 to a Narbonne team that ultimately played for the SoCal open division bowl (lost to Centennial Corona), and also to the same Chaminade program they ultimately defeated for the SS Western championship.
The Cavaliers are led by the talent of 6 foot, 3 inch quarterback Jalen Green, who is 160 of 253 for 2,302 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air and has rolled to over 1,000 yards on the ground. Green has over 100 rushing yards in each of his last three playoff victories.
Sophomore Malik Roberson leads Cavalier runners with 1,454 yards on just 148 carries (9.82-yard average), while three receivers (Anterio Bateman, Darrell Fuery and Adoree Jackson) have managed 30 or more catches this season.
And it’s not just the skill positions where Serra excels. According to scout.com, both Hawaii and Washington State have extended scholarship offers to 6-6, 345 pound offensive lineman Emerald Faletuipapai. Serra has 13 linemen that eclipse the 250-pound mark.
Oakdale defensive lineman and heavyweight wrestler Eric Barragan (5-11, 260 pounds) is the lone Mustang to surpass the 250-pound mark.
It’s a serious mismatch in size and speed, but Oakdale has faced larger and faster teams throughout the season. The Mustangs silenced highly touted Sierra runner Antony Cota, outplayed a burly Manteca offensive line, corralled the talents of tall speedster Jomon Dotson of American Canyon and most recently put the brakes on power running Joe Protheroe of Clayton Valley, who had both size and speed.
Serra has stars on defense too, including defensive end Nicholas Usher (11.5 sacks), defensive tackle Inoke Raidadroka (eight and a half sacks), Jackson (five interceptions) and Dwight Williams (151 total tackles).
It’s an incredibly daunting obstacle, but nothing not expected for opposition in a CIF Championship Bowl Game.
Tickets for the game are available at The Home Depot Center Box Office, local Ticketmaster outlets or ticketmaster.com. They run $15 for adults and $10 for high school students (with a valid ASB card), seniors (65+) and children. All tickets are for general admission seating and are valid for all games on a single day. Two tickets would be required in order to attend at least one game on each day.
Time Warner Cable will broadcast all five state bowl contests live throughout the TWC footprint in Los Angeles and San Diego. Additionally, Time Warner Cable has also made the games available for distribution throughout California. Check with your local provider for channels and times. PlayOn! Sports will audio stream all five (5) games live at http://www.playonsports.com/channels/california.