Oaks Christian overcomes slow start to beat Cathedral

Full story: LA Daily News 44
The matchup many have been waiting for all season will happen later this week when Oaks Christian of Westlake Village faces Serra of Gardena for the Northwest Division championship. Read more
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Phantom Nation

Los Angeles, CA

#1 Dec 6, 2009
It's one thing to watch Oaks Christian on film -- it's another to see them in person. You guys are beasts. I thought we defended Malcolm Jones pretty well for most of the first half, until that touchdown 50 seconds before halftime.

I'm still a bit wary of the call on that first OC "touchdown". I know the ball was knocked away, but did the receiver have control for enough time?

Montana looked solid. We sacked him four times, but the combination of huge line and an excellent quarterback in Montana there was a tough test our fast DBs. Montana had a few guys open and overthrew them a few times, but hit the open receiver quite a bit. It seemed like every single one of Oaks' pass plays went for a big chunk of yardage. I know the starters from OC usually play only a half or so, so their stats are a bit depressed (not their fault), but how often do you guys play the starters into the fourth quarter?

As for Cathedral, I thought we played well on defense. Bermudez, Merrill, Hasson, Jefferon, Ford, and the noseguard. On offense, I understand the Belichick-esque going for it on fourth and two on our own 38, I understand the reasoning, but I think that was a bit too aggressive, especially in the first quarter. That said, I liked the look CHS gave with the spread offense. Olson had many flashes of brilliance to Merrill, who caught an awesome game, and Jefferson and Hasson, who did as well, but in the end, a few turnovers and a huge Oaks Christian team seemed to be a bit too strong. Thought we drove well on various drives throughout the game but a pick or penalty or that one fumble seemed to stifle our chances. But hey, that happens in football sometimes. Even great teams and players make some plays they wish they could have back.

For the record, did Oaks get that one interception on a shovel pass? Was that an awesome play by Zac Stout, because it looked like the ball was taken from our receiver once he caught it?
Phantom Nation

Los Angeles, CA

#2 Dec 6, 2009
I haven't verified yet but I think we had 350+ yards on offense. Reminded me of one of those Green Bay Packers games where the stats are there but the points aren't. All that says is a few plays different here and there could've changed the landscape of the game.
CasualObserverfr omOaks

Los Angeles, CA

#3 Dec 6, 2009
Cathedral is on the verge of becoming a football power. Moving to Division III is long overdue. Two suggestions. Keep bringing in the fast, speedy receivers/defensive backs and so forth. But perhaps more importantly, Cathedral needs either bigger and taller offensive/defensive linemen. Whether this means making the guys you have start working out in the gym even more next week and/or bringing in a row of oxes next year, a strong line on both sides can be the difference between winning championships or not.
Phantom Phan

United States

#4 Dec 6, 2009
Thank you Phantoms for a great season! The whole Phantom Nation is proud of you.

The author's assessment of the 4th & 1 call in the first quarter is absolutely right on. It signaled desparation on the part of the Phantoms and indicated a lack of confidence in our defense which was doing and continued to do a hell of a job.

The D was great last night even though the score doesn't look like it. We sacked Montana 3 times I think, had a few TFLs on Lion running backs, caused a fumble and dropped at least 4 sure interceptions. The goal line stand when the Phantoms met Jones in mid-air trying to hurdle the pile and pushed him back down the other side was the play of the night for the D. Jones lost his cool, punched a Phantom in the facemask and drew a 15 yd personal foul, forcing OC to kick a field goal.

PNation is right when he says Olsen had flashes of brilliance... but they were far outnumbered by ridiculously bad passes and horrible decision making. His stats are very deceiving. The kid is a great kid and a talented athelete and he will improve with continued coaching and more big game experience.

The fans and coaches from OC were great. They were classy when the game was in doubt and also when it was put away.

Best wishes for a quick and complete recovery for Lions player #81 (Fua, I think). He was taken out on a stretcher at halftime - somebody said a possible concussion. He is a great player and we really hope he is able to finish his HS career on the field next week against sarah.

Cathedral Alum

Los Angeles, CA

#5 Dec 6, 2009
Awesome season guys. If you have to lose to someone, at least you lost to Oaks. Both graduating seniors who are going on to play ball in college and returning players should use this cool experience as something positive to build from hereon out.

And I hope Alani Fua from Oaks is able to have a quick recovery from the concussion, I believe, that kept him out of the second half. I hate to see players, no matter what team, not able to play.
APPRENTICE

Fresno, CA

#7 Dec 7, 2009
Serra can seat 1,000 fans 500 on both sides of the stadium field
APPRENTICE

Fresno, CA

#8 Dec 7, 2009
31-28 Serra
Serra 88

Van Nuys, CA

#9 Dec 7, 2009
Dems wrote:
What happened to the seating? Such of a beautiful Stadium with not near enough seating. Cathedral gets all the seats on thier side and 1/2 the seating on the other side. CIF should have moved it to another venue close to Cathedral keeping thier home field advantage but with seating for everyone who wants to see it. There was no more than 400 seats split between Cathedral, Oaks, Serra's team and anybody else that showed up. Is Serra gonna be the same way? No seating for the fans?
Serra can accommodate 5,000 fans, as was the case last year in the semi-final game against Verbum Dei
Phantom Alum

Los Angeles, CA

#11 Dec 7, 2009
OC was clearly a bigger and better team but those don't always win. Cathedral coach clearly had OC frustrated in the first half but then made two bonehead decisions to give OC their confidence back and the momentum (and the game). The first was the Bellichek moment. He had the lead and momentum and gave it up by going for it on 4th in his own territory with another pass. If he knew he was going to do that, he should have run it twice to get the two yards (maybe his double-wing that so frustrates defenses). The second mistake was not running out the clock before halftime and instead giving OC the ball back with just over a minute. Being down at the half only 7-3 would have pumped up the Phantoms and demoralized OC. Instead, they give the ball back and the obvious timebomb exploded with Jones running for a 60-yard touchdown. That pretty much ended the Phantoms hopes. Oh, well.
I think Serra can take OC because Serra has the speed that Cathedral has but with bigger offensive and defensive lines.(Cathedral looked tiny out there!)
Cathedral Fan

Los Angeles, CA

#12 Dec 7, 2009
Shonda,

We can't help who's in our league, the same league that Serra is in by the way. Harvard-Westlake is a really good team. Saint Bernard was awesome back with Rocky Hines a few years ago, and Bishop Montgomery has been pretty bad for a while, although their basketball program is awesome.

Dems,

Agreed that Cathedral needs more seating. The arrangement on the visitor's side is more or less temporary. We're waiting to buy out that hall/parking lot in order to expand there. Also in my opinion, they need to add more seating on the home field side. I think the architectural design is sweet, but perhaps a bit more seating on the home side could've been better. It's hard to see sometimes unless you're tall from the deck above the locker room tunnel.

Agreed also that Cathedral needs to schedule tougher games in the non-league. Next year we have Serra, Saint Francis, Saint Paul, Chaminade, and Harvard-Westlake in league. San Gabriel is fine to have, but we need to get rid of the Eagle Rocks, Cantwells, Glendales, and El Segundos and get some teams outside the area, like from the Inland Empire, Orange County, San Diego, Ventura, or maybe Northern California, or out of state.

I was impressed by the way Oaks handles themselves throughout the game and after. They have a lot of class. For the record, was that Serra on the visitor's sideline that said "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye" at the end?
Cathedral Fan

Los Angeles, CA

#13 Dec 7, 2009
Phantom Alum,

I think Cathedral drove the ball fairly easily on the Oaks defense, but three interceptions at mid-field and a fumble at mid-field and a failed fourth and 1 on our own 36 pretty much forecasts a loss. When you give Oaks Christian and Nick Montana, Malcolm Jones, Blair Holiday, Alani Fua, and Jordan Peyton half a field or less to work from, it's gonna be a long day (or short). Also, several Cathedral penalties, two that come to mind in particular, those being the holding penalty that voided a 20-yard completion early in the third quarter and the illegal procedure on the first drive after the Cathedral completion down to the 12 yard line. I thought Zach Stout played awesome, and Oaks' defensive linemen are studs and caused Olson to adjust his passes a bit with their height. I think it was Van der Wal that swated down a pass where Olson was throwing to a receiver in the first half who was wide open 15 yards up.

All in all, I thought the game went okay. Like Jim Mora says, "I don't care who you play against. If you have four turnovers, you're not gonna win."
Serradone

Los Angeles, CA

#14 Dec 7, 2009
I'd like to see Serra try and stop Oaks. Calpreps has the game at 35-31 Oaks but I doubt it'll be that close.
mwgab

Van Nuys, CA

#15 Dec 7, 2009
Let's see.... All things being equal, who would you rather have coach your team, Bill Redell or Scott Altenberg? OC and Serra may have about equal talent across the board, but OC is far superior in coaching,disciplined play, and class.

Watch for Serra to make some boneheaded plays that will ultimately cost them the game.

As for Cathedral, their program should improve as the size of the student body increases and gets them more players. Not only were they small up front, but there were too many two-way players who got worn down against Serra and OC.

A note to Coach Pearson: You NEVER go for a first down from your own 38 yard line on 4th and 2 in the first quarter. You had scored on your first drive and held OC on their first possession. If you netted 20 yards on a punt, OC starts at their 42, and your defense is excited to play. By the way, did I forget to mention your playing at home? Instead, you call for a pass in the flat that fails.

Football is largely a game of ball possession, field position and momentum. The chances of beating OC were pretty slim, but coaching mistakes are hard to overcome when your team is physically overmatched. By not punting, Cathedral lost the ball, field position AND momentum.This didn't cost Cathedral the game, but it took away any momentum Cathedral could have built to make the game more competitive.

Coach Pearson is a good coach, but to be an elite coach,like a Bill Redell, Bruce Rollinson, etc., you can't afford to have brain cramps in close games that can make the difference between winning and losing.
Rick

Los Angeles, CA

#16 Dec 8, 2009
I thought the play calling for Cathedral on both offense and defense was excellent, save for that Bill Belichick moment on the second drive. Cathedral's defense looked very good. Impressed with Rayvione Mouton, Dominguez, Stacy Ford, A Jeff, Merrill, Hasson, Ivory, and Key. Speaking of Ivory, that guy's a stud. When you give a team like Oaks 50 yards to score, you're gonna be hard pressed to win.

Cathedral's offense looked good -- except for select turnovers of course, which you won't be able to get away with with Montana and Jones at the helm.

I've said this before, but I've never seen a high school football team with as much Division 1 talent as Oaks Christian has. They have seven, probably going to be eight, D1 seniors now, as well as a plethora of underclassmen -- Holliday, Van der Wal, Payton, Gretzky, Trey Smith (who was hurt), Denham, and so on.

It'll be interesting to see the outcome of the game against Serra. Oaks is obviously favored, but Serra has a great quarterback in Conner Preston who rarely throws picks and great sprinter wide receivers. Serra also has a much bigger line than Cathedral, which could be interesting to see how they match up against Oaks both on offense and defense. The winner will at least get the Division 3 State Bowl bid. In my opinion, I think the winner should get the Open Division Bowl bid. I think Servite and Edison and Oaks are the best teams in California -- yes, better than Stockton Saint Mary's and De La Salle. I'd actually want to see Oaks v. Edison/Servite in the Open Division. The Bowl Games are great, but not if the three best teams are in Southern California.

I'd actually love to see the CIF set up their playoffs like other states, with ten regular season games and six rounds of playoffs, so you'd have 64 teams in the first round. I'd also combine the CIF Southern Section, San Diego Section, LA City Section, and/or Central Section, and either keep 13 divisions or reduce that number with more leagues in each division.
Rick

Los Angeles, CA

#17 Dec 8, 2009
Question. In CIF football, teams from the same CIF division could be in different state divisions. Cathedral was in State D2, Oaks and Serra are in State D3, and Pioneer Valley was in State D1 for example. I know in CIF basketball and soccer, teams from the same league could likewise be in different CIF and state divisions, but come playoff time, they each go to their respective divisions, which could be different from other teams in your league. I remember a few years ago when Crespi's soccer team was ranked number one in Division V, but they came in fourth place in the Mission League to the likes of Saint Francis Loyola, and Notre Dame -- all in Division I or IV, and Crespi didn't make the playoffs.
mwgab

Van Nuys, CA

#18 Dec 8, 2009
shonda wrote:
cathedral?
dont you guys play like bishop montgomery, harvard westlake, st. elmos and st. elsewhere? dont overinflate your egos. you guys play a bunch of nobodys and then when the big boys come to town, get blown out of the water.
get a grip.
Let's see, Cathedral lost to 2 teams, Oaks Christian, rated No. 1 in Southern California and No. 5 in the country, and Serra, the No. 7 team in Southern CA. In this division, Cathedral was better than everybody else except these two teams. They beat El Segundo, Harvard Westlake, and Pioneer Valley, all quarter finalists in the Northwest division. None of those scores were close. By the way, didn't Harvard Westlake beat Alemany, which is now going to their division's championship game? The Del Rey league is the best of the Northwest Division leagues.

With Serra, Cathedral, and Harvard Westlake joining the Mission League next year, these teams move up in class big-time, particularly with the coaches at St. Paul, Chaminade and St. Francis being among the best in SoCal. My prediction for next year is that no one goes undefeated in league play.
mwgab

Van Nuys, CA

#19 Dec 8, 2009
Rick wrote:
I thought the play calling for Cathedral on both offense and defense was excellent, save for that Bill Belichick moment on the second drive. Cathedral's defense looked very good. Impressed with Rayvione Mouton, Dominguez, Stacy Ford, A Jeff, Merrill, Hasson, Ivory, and Key. Speaking of Ivory, that guy's a stud. When you give a team like Oaks 50 yards to score, you're gonna be hard pressed to win.
Cathedral's offense looked good -- except for select turnovers of course, which you won't be able to get away with with Montana and Jones at the helm.
I've said this before, but I've never seen a high school football team with as much Division 1 talent as Oaks Christian has. They have seven, probably going to be eight, D1 seniors now, as well as a plethora of underclassmen -- Holliday, Van der Wal, Payton, Gretzky, Trey Smith (who was hurt), Denham, and so on.
It'll be interesting to see the outcome of the game against Serra. Oaks is obviously favored, but Serra has a great quarterback in Conner Preston who rarely throws picks and great sprinter wide receivers. Serra also has a much bigger line than Cathedral, which could be interesting to see how they match up against Oaks both on offense and defense. The winner will at least get the Division 3 State Bowl bid. In my opinion, I think the winner should get the Open Division Bowl bid. I think Servite and Edison and Oaks are the best teams in California -- yes, better than Stockton Saint Mary's and De La Salle. I'd actually want to see Oaks v. Edison/Servite in the Open Division. The Bowl Games are great, but not if the three best teams are in Southern California.
I'd actually love to see the CIF set up their playoffs like other states, with ten regular season games and six rounds of playoffs, so you'd have 64 teams in the first round. I'd also combine the CIF Southern Section, San Diego Section, LA City Section, and/or Central Section, and either keep 13 divisions or reduce that number with more leagues in each division.
Conner Preston is NOT a great QB. He's an above average high school QB with great receivers. I think he'll throw at least two picks against OC. To say he's great is the same as saying Matt Barkley is better than any other QB Pete Carroll has coached.

The last thing I have to say is: "Cassius Marsh, meet Conner Preston"
Rick

Los Angeles, CA

#20 Dec 8, 2009
mwgab,

The Mission League should be good next year. I think Serra's gonna win it, but the others have a shot. There aren't any Bishop Montgomerys in that league, which will be good. They'll get four teams in the playoffs I would think, although you don't want to be the fourth team hah.

The Northwest Division (Division X), with Oaks, Serra, Cathedral, Saint Joseph, Pioneer Valley, and HW is stronger than every other division in my opinion with the exception of the Pac-5 (Division I)(Servite, Edison, Lakewood, Mission Viejo, Bishop Amat, Notre Dame/SO, LB Poly, Mater Dei, Dana Hills) and Division IV (Moorpark, Westlake, Saint Bonaventure, Valencia, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks). I think Oaks and Serra could win those divisions, and Cathedral, SJ, PV, and HW could make a good run, but those divisions don't have subpar teams making the playoffs. Division II has Norco, Vista Murrieta, Chapparal, and Corona Centennial, and Redlands East Valley and Rancho Verde, which are good schools, but their size doesn't match an Oaks or Serra, but Vista Murrieta is good, although I'd be hard pressed to say they could be Oaks, Serra, or even Cathedral or Saint Joseph. The other divisions have a few real good teams here and there -- Charter Oak, La Habra, Trabuco Hills, Upland, Los Osos, Saint Margaret's, Mira Costa, Alemany, Palmdale, and Saint Francis. Division X is sort of an anomaly, and really should be Division III, more or less.

In fact, Oaks, Saint Joseph, and Pioneer Valley are moving up to Division IV, and Serra, Cathedral, and Harvard-Westlake are moving up to Division III.
Rick

Los Angeles, CA

#21 Dec 8, 2009
mwgab,

Preston is only a junior. I do see him playing at some D1 school. He might not be 6'5 220 or have the strongest arm -- it's pretty strong though -- but I've seen crappier quarterbacks get Division 1 scholarships. I'm excited about the game though. I wish Trevor Olson was on Serra though. I think that would be very, very interesting.
Rick

Los Angeles, CA

#22 Dec 8, 2009
Conner Preston is better than Ted Landers. You'll agree with me there I think. Landers had more height and did walk onto UCLA.

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