Paramount High School, getting two touchdowns from senior wide receiver Rico Smith, broke Lynwood's five-year, 35-game San Gabriel Valley League unbeaten streak Friday night with a 22-13 victory over the Knights and won the title in the last game of the regular season.
Paramount, which was rated No. 6 in the Southern Conference, will enter the playoffs with a 9-1 record (6-0 in the league), the only loss coming against Long Beach Jordan, 20-7, in Week 4. Lynwood, the No. 8 team, advanced at 6-3-1 (4-1-1). The Knights' other defeats were by seven points to Carson, ranked second in the City, and by 11 to La Puente Bishop Amat, top-ranked in the Southern Section.
Hardly a bad season--just not up to recent Lynwood standards. Coach Larry Anderson's team lost the final game of the 1980 season, then proceeded to reel off 34 straight league victories, the second-longest league winning streak in Southern Section history, before tying Dominguez of Compton last week.
This time, the Knights fell behind, 15-0, by the end of the first quarter and trailed, 22-0, at halftime, as Smith sparked Paramount.
Despite close coverage by a pair of Lynwood defensive backs, Johnnie Morris and Darwin Walker, Smith teamed with quarterback Kojuan Williams on a 19-yard scoring pass with 3:24 left in the first quarter for the first score of the game. The touchdown was set up by Frank Harper's interception of a Keith Nixon pass.
Juan Villarruel's extra point was blocked, but Paramount went up, 8-0, with 1:19 left in the first quarter on a safety as Lynwood recovered the ball in its own end zone after a wild pass from center on punt formation.
On the ensuing free kick, Smith took a one-hopper on his own 36 and dashed 64 yards for another score. A Villarruel kick made it 15-0 just 10:50 into the game.
Smith would catch only one pass the rest of the game--a 32-yarder near the end of the third quarter--but his mark on the game would be unmistakable.
"I felt we could get it there if I had time," said Williams, who completed 8 of 13 passes for 138 yards and 1 touchdown. "If Lynwood couldn't cover him, nobody could."
Lynwood scored for the first time with 3:39 to play in the third quarter on a one-yard keeper by Nixon, capping a 12-play drive, all on the ground. The Knights made it 22-13 when, with 5:51 left in the game, Nixon passed six yards to a wide open Roy Turner in the end zone.
They got yet another chance moments later when Williams fumbled on Paramount's first play. But after a five-yard run by Austin McCowan and an incomplete pass by Nixon, the Paramount defense rose to the occasion with sacks by Garrett Spencer and Hector Ramos on consecutive plays to finish Lynwood for good.
"We kept our pride and our poise even when we messed up a few times," Williams said.