The long and storied tradition of Carson vs. Banning, the best high school football rivalry in the Southland, added a rare twist Saturday night when the teams met for the 31st time.
It came as Banning, with two touchdowns by quarterback Ed Kapu and two by running back Ricky Moore, reinforced its No. 1 ranking in the City and state by beating Carson, 37-10, for the Pacific League title before an estimated crowd of 21,500 at East Los Angeles College.
It was the largest margin of victory in the series since the 38-7 win by Banning in 1977.
Banning had a 20-point lead at halftime as the result of touchdown runs by Moore and Marvin Pollard, a scoring pass from Kapu to Milili Fuamatu and, in great part, Carson's lack of discipline.
The Colts had 90 yards in penalties in the first quarter, and Banning did not let many of the opportunities pass. The Pilots, the fifth-ranked team in the nation according to USA Today, scored on the game's opening drive, a 67-yard effort capped by the Kapu-to-Fuamatu pass from 15 yards out. Fuamatu did most of the work on the play, catching the pass in the right flat and breaking three tackles en route to the end zone.
Two personal fouls by Carson on Tito Martinez's successful extra point then put the ball on the Colt 30 for the kickoff. Banning's onside kick worked to perfection, Todd Coefield running right past Carson's up-backs to field Marlon Primous' chip shot, although a Pilot unsportsmanlike penalty brought the ball back to the 23.
No matter. Three plays later, Moore, the replacement for the injured Archie Jean, went over from the three. Martinez's kick made it 14-0.
Banning (9-0 overall and 5-0 in league play) scored again on its next drive to take a 20-0 lead just 9:42 into the game. Flanker Pollard did the honors on a 12-yard end around, with a nice block by guard Ed Lalau clearing the way. The extra point failed.
The teams then traded field goals--Carson getting a 27-yarder from Luis Solorio with 4:25 to play in the third quarter for its first points of the game--before the Colts scored their first touchdown.
That came on a two-yard run by Calvin Holmes with 9:13 remaining in the game, but only after a fourth-down face-mask penalty against Banning kept the drive alive. That made it 23-10, but the Pilots quickly regained the cushion as Kapu (5 of 8 passes for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns) hit Michael Williams for an 89-yard scoring play with 6:56 left and Moore ran 16 yards with 4:32 to go for his second touchdown.
Banning's vaunted defense did its part, too, holding Carson's explosive backfield of Holmes and Alvin Goree to a combined 136 yards. Holmes had 72 of those, but 32 came on one run early in the third quarter.
Perhaps the only consolation for Carson (8-1, 4-1) after this performance lies in the recent history of the series.
In each of the last five years, the team that lost the regular-season showdown has come back to win when they met again for the City 4-A championship.