The story of how 11-time City Section Division I football champion Carson High has been able to reach the championship game despite a growing number of injuries to key personnel is a tribute to the spirit and confidence second-year Coach Kevin McCall places in his players.
"It's really easy," McCall said. "When we say, 'Next man up,' they're ready."
Sidelined on Friday night was starting quarterback Kiki Flores, out with a knee injury. Then the backup, Devonte King, went down with an ankle injury on the first play. Enter Jabari Minix, who hadn't played quarterback all season. He ran for three touchdowns and passed for another in leading the Colts to a 33-30 win over San Pedro, setting up an all-Marine League final against Narbonne next Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum.
Minix, the overwhelming favorite to be selected the City Section player of the year, finished with 150 yards rushing in 32 carries.
"It's not like one player can go down and stop the whole team," Minix said. "We can all do something."
Garrett Henry, a linebacker playing fullback but rarely the featured back, rushed for 134 yards in eight carries.
"We were almost out of players, but every time we went, 'Next man up,' they'd step up," McCall said.
Junior receiver Javon McKinley of Corona Centennial has been the MVP of the Pac-5 playoffs so far. Just look at what he has accomplished in three games.
Against Gardena Serra, he had 14 catches for 240 yards and four touchdowns. Against Santa Ana Mater Dei, he had six catches for 187 yards and one touchdown. Against La Puente Bishop Amat, he had 11 catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns. The defensive backs he has been going against are some of the best around.
"He's peaking right now," Coach Matt Logan said. "And what's amazing is the competition he's going against. He's playing against phenomenal athletes."
Next up is the Pac-5 Division championship game on Saturday at 8 p.m. against Bellflower St. John Bosco at Angel Stadium.
Arizona State, Washington and Colorado have offered scholarships to McKinley, who has close to a 4.0 grade-point average. There could be a stampede of more offers coming after college recruiters see video of what he been doing this month.
It was a memorable Saturday in Fresno for Phillip Rocha of Arcadia. He streaked to the fastest time of the day at the CIF state cross-country championships, winning the Division I race in 14:58. Robert Brandt of Loyola took second in 15:07. Temecula Great Oak won the team title.
In Division I girls, Marissa Williams of Palisades finished second behind Davis' Fiona O'Keeffe, who ran 16:57. Great Oak also won the girls' title.