Skiing can wait: Big Bear High in hunt for prep football championship

Don Lugo 330-pound lineman enjoys eating

In Big Bear Lake, a resort town for skiers, snowboarders, fishermen and distance runners, there's hope on Saturday for the first snowfall of winter.

There's also excitement that Big Bear High is going on a 257-mile, five-hour bus ride to play Santa Maria for the Southern Section Division 12 football championship.


"There's a lot of people talking about it," coach Dave Griffiths said.

Brian Cramer, who owns Sandy's Bar & Restaurant on Big Bear Boulevard, is planning a viewing party for Saturday night. The game will be streamed on the web, and Cramer is hoping he can figure out how to put it on a large screen. He's going to do a test run on Friday night.

"I'm working out the kinks," he said.

There will be 17 high school football championship games this weekend in the City Section and Southern Section. One of the more intriguing teams is Big Bear (12-1).

The team's star quarterback, Chase Dowty, has been skiing since he was 2 and playing football since he was 6. He and three teammates drove 117 miles to Long Beach on Monday to participate in the Southern Section championship luncheon.

Dowty has rushed for 1,234 yards and 21 touchdowns. Win or lose, come December, Dowty and many of his teammates will be hitting the slopes.

"After football, we get on our skis," Dowty said. "It's really cool."

The team is expected back in town around 4 a.m. Sunday. If the Bears win, Dowty would have to delay his return to the slopes. Big Bear would play in a state regional bowl game next week.

Competitive impact

It's the second year of the Southern Section's new playoff format allowing teams in the same league to participate in different playoff divisions, and that is helping schools that have had little recent success break through.

Santa Clarita Golden Valley finished fourth in the Foothill League but has reached the Division 6 final and will host Santa Barbara Bishop Diego on Friday. Golden Valley, which opened in 2005, went 10 years without winning a league game until coach Dan Kelley showed up from Arleta.

Narbonne vs. Crenshaw

Everyone in the City Section has long known that Harbor City Narbonne would make it to the Open Division final Friday at El Camino College. But who would emerge as the Gauchos' competition? It turned out to be Crenshaw.

"All year, I picked them," Narbonne coach Manuel Douglas said. "I never doubted it was going to be Crenshaw. We're the only team that's beaten them for the City title in the last 10 years and they're the only team to have beaten us."


Narbonne has been to the final seven consecutive years and was upset by Crenshaw in 2013 when it gave up three safeties because of bad snaps.

"We practice that all the time for the last several years," Douglas said.

Kicking in pain

Junior Jack Luckhurst has kicked a 45-yard field goal for Bishop Diego and a 74-yard punt this month, and that's despite being in pain each time he kicks. He has been postponing hip surgery for weeks to repair what might be a genetic condition.

"It's worse and worse each game but he's hanging in there," said Luckhurst's father, Mick, a former NFL kicker. "Every time you kick, it's like someone is sticking a large needle into his leg."

He's set to undergo hip surgery Dec. 19 in Colorado, then have surgery on his other hip in six weeks.

Sack master

Junior defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux of Westlake Village Oaks Christian has 16 sacks going into the Division 2 final at Valencia on Friday.

Twitter: @latsondheimer


2:45 p.m.: This article was updated with more information about the Big Bear High football program.

This article was originally published at 4:35 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 27.