There's a brand of toughness found in Marine League football that other teams in the City Section aspire to duplicate. It was only fitting that Saturday's Division I championship game between Marine League stalwarts Carson and Narbonne lived up to that blue-collar mystique as the Olympic flame burned brightly at the Coliseum.
In the end, Narbonne's defense rose up to shut down the consensus best player in the City, Jabari Minix, and the Gauchos came away with a 33-20 victory, earning their third Division I title in the last four years.
"This is a good team," Minix said. "Much respect to them. They were definitely ready. They were well-prepared. They were aware of what we wanted to do, and I applaud them."
A strong second half propelled the Gauchos (10-4). Sean Riley returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 89 yards for a touchdown to give Narbonne a 19-17 lead. Then Damion Gatlin gave Narbonne a 26-17 lead with a one-yard touchdown run. Gatlin finished with three touchdowns and 86 yards rushing.
This game was all about Narbonne trying to figure out a strategy for containing Minix. He carried the ball 14 times out of the quarterback position and gained 61 yards in the first half. Minix's toughness also came through, and his 13-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Colts a 17-13 halftime lead. He finished with 70 yards in 22 carries.
"They were a tough opponent," defensive end Ricky Powell said. "But our effort really came through."
Minix had an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Colts wanted the ball in his hands as much as possible. He'd take the snap, look for any opening and plow ahead with a fearless attitude.
Narbonne quarterback Roman Ale played mistake-free football. He completed seven of 10 passes for 135 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown pass to Ikenna Ohaeri.