From a college recruiter's perspective, Friday's Mission League game between host Gardena Serra and West Hills Chaminade was better than any all-star camp.
With close to 20 players from the two programs holding scholarship offers, every play from scrimmage offered a rare glimpse of top player taking on top player.
In the case of unbeaten Serra, the No. 3-ranked Cavaliers had too much speed and too much talent for the Eagles.
From the second play of the game, when Jordan Lasley caught a 76-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Greene, the Cavaliers (7-0, 2-0) were in dominant form. Their defense was magnificent in a 36-0 victory over the No. 7-ranked Eagles (5-2, 1-1).
"I'd tell them, 'Good luck,' but I don't think they need it," Chaminade Coach Ed Croson said. "We had a tough time. We'll go back to the drawing board."
By winning, Serra has put itself in position to not only make a run at a 14-0 season but also earn a spot in the CIF state championship Southern California Open Division bowl game.
It was a complete performance. Greene, the senior quarterback, rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Adoree' Jackson, who rushed for 92 yards, had three touchdowns nullified by penalties, including one on a punt return. Darrion Naylor rushed for 114 yards.
The most impressive part of Serra's many weapons is its group of linebackers. Junior John Houston might be the best for his grade in California. Senior Dwight Williams can pick his college. Seniors Olajuwon Tucker and Malachi Mageo never stop hustling. Tucker, who also plays defensive end, announced afterward he has committed to USC.
"We have an amazing linebacker corps," Houston said. "We could be the best. Everybody is mobile and agile getting to the ball."
Chaminade's offense had been very hard to stop all season, scoring 57 points against Venice, 54 against Newhall Hart and 46 against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. But quarterback Brad Kaaya was largely ineffective despite passing for 175 yards. Donovan Lee was limited to 34 yards rushing. The Eagles could never break off a long gain.
"To beat Serra, they can't see you coming," Croson said. "They have to be flat. I think they saw us coming. They were fired up."
The two schools are likely to have another meeting in December in the Western Division championship game. Croson gave a clue to his long-term thinking before the game, saying, "Tonight, it's about finding out how to beat them in the final or whenever we see them again."
In 2002, Croson's Birmingham team lost to Taft, 30-6, and came back to beat Taft in the City championship game, 35-7. Check back in December.