Since 1981, a strange pattern has developed between Carson and Wilmington Banning when the teams have met for the City 4-A high school football championship.
The teams, which will play for the title at 8 tonight at the Coliseum, have met in 5 City finals since 1981, and each time the loser in the regular-season game won in the final:
--In 1981, undefeated Carson ended Banning's 30-game winning streak with a 13-12 regular-season victory, but the Pilots, with player of the year Greg Battle at linebacker, won in the final, 21-14.
--In 1983, Carson again finished the regular season undefeated and had a 14-12 victory over Banning. But, the Pilots won the City title with a 30-29 victory over the Colts.
--In 1984, undefeated Banning, led by Jamelle Holieway, defeated Carson in league play, 6-0, but lost to the Colts in the City final, 33-20.
--In 1985, Carson defeated Banning during the regular season, 6-0, only to lose to the Pilots in the City final, 31-6.
--In 1986, undefeated Banning beat Carson in their annual league meeting, 37-10, but Carson and running back Alvin Goree, player of the year, won the City crown with a 21-11 victory over the Pilots.
In all, the teams have met 34 times with Carson leading the series, 18-16.
Banning has won 10 City titles, including 6 straight from 1976-81, a record. Carson, which has reached the City final the last 8 years, has won 6 titles.
If the pattern continues tonight, Banning would become the City champion because the Pilots lost their Nov. 11 regular-season showdown against Carson, 24-13.
In that game, Banning's star junior quarterback John Ma'ae played ineffectively on an injured ankle. However, Ma'ae will be in top shape for tonight's game.
In Banning's 36-34 semifinal victory over San Fernando last Friday night, Ma'ae scored the winning touchdown on a trick play, catching a pass from halfback Keith Mims.
Under Ma'ae's direction, Banning has averaged more than 39 points a game in its 3 playoff victories.
The Pilots (11-2) feature a strong running attack, behind a massive line headed by 275-pound tackle Bob Whitfield and 245-pound guard Andy Gonzales. Mims and sophomore fullback Derek Sparks have each rushed for more than 1,200 yards.
In the playoffs, Sparks is averaging more than 165 yards a game, including a 228-yard performance against Fairfax in the second round.
Carson (11-1) has won 10 straight since its 17-13 loss to La Puente Bishop Amat, Southern Section Division I finalist.
The Colts had to come from behind against Dorsey, for the second time this season, defeating the Dons last Friday in their semifinal matchup, 14-13. Senior quarterback Perry Klein completed 13 of 16 passes for 130 yards and ran 24 yards for a key first down in the winning touchdown drive.
Klein, who led Palisades to the 3-A City final last season, has completed 70% of his passes this season for 1,163 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has thrown only 3 interceptions.
Westchester (9-3) vs. South Gate (13-0)
Tonight at El Camino College, 7:30
Junior tailback Ivan Wilson leads South Gate, the City's only undefeated team. He has rushed for more than 1,800 yards and has scored 23 touchdowns. The Rams also have a strong defense, which has shut out 6 opponents, 3 of them playoff foes. Westchester is a surprise finalist despite having won the 2-A title last season. The Comets ended defending 3-A champion Franklin's 20-game winning streak in advancing to the final and did so in convincing fashion, 27-0. Westchester junior Tim Holliday rushed for 172 yards in 18 carries, including a 70-yard first-quarter touchdown run, in that game. Holliday, who is fast becoming the City's best back after having been slowed for most of the season by ankle problems, out-performed Lamont Lovett, Franklin's 2,000-yard rusher. Lovett was held to 68 yards in 18 carries.
The Southern Section championship games:
Bishop Amat (11-2) vs. Fountain Valley (11-2)
Tonight at Anaheim Stadium, 7:30
Bishop Amat pulled a major upset in defeating top-ranked Loyola of Los Angeles in the semifinals, 16-0. The Lancers capitalized on 3 field goals by Eric White and quarterback Brian Harmon completed 19 of 28 passes for 183 yards. Harmon completed 10 of his passes to Jeremy Smith for 101 yards and the game-clinching touchdown. This is Bishop Amat's first final appearance since 1983. Fountain Valley also advanced with an upset in the semifinals, defeating Anaheim Servite, 10-7. Quarterback David Henigan threw for 192 yards, completing 12 of 24 passes, and the Barons' offense was able to keep Servite's star running back, Derek Brown, off the field for most of the game. Fountain Valley lost to Fontana in last season's championship game, 21-0.
Canyon Country Canyon (11-2) vs.
Antelope Valley (11-2)
Saturday at Antelope Valley HS, 7:30
This is an all-Golden League final. Canyon defeated Antelope Valley in the regular season, 10-9. Canyon, led by tailback Chris Peery, has won 11 straight games since starting the season 0-2. Canyon defeated Ventura Buena in the semifinals, 45-14. Antelope Valley is led by tailback Tommie Smith, who rushed for 203 yards in the Antelopes' 23-13 semifinal victory over Palmdale.
Paramount (11-1) vs. Los Alamitos (12-0-1)
Saturday at Orange Coast College, 7:30
Paramount, in its first Southern Section final, is led by quarterback Jack Manu and receiver Ismael Lopez, who connected for 2 fourth-quarter touchdowns in their 35-32 semifinal victory over Mission Viejo. Los Alamitos is making its second consecutive appearance in the championship game after defeating Orange El Modena in the semifinals, 19-3. Quarterback Todd Gragnano, who leads the Griffins, accounted for more than 150 yards and 2 touchdowns in their victory over El Modena.
Pico Rivera El Rancho (11-2) vs.
Hacienda Heights Los Altos (11-1)
Saturday, Mt. San Antonio College, 7:30
El Rancho is the Southern Section's surprise team. Taking the hard path to the final, the Dons defeated both the No. 2- and 3-seeded teams on the road. Los Altos is making its second consecutive Southern Secion final appearance after defeating Claremont, 14-3, in the semifinals. Running back Roger Boden scored both touchdowns in Los Altos' victory over Claremont.
Moreno Valley Canyon Springs (11-1) vs.
San Bernardino (11-2)
Tonight at San Bernardino HS, 7:30
In only its third year of existence, Canyon Springs has breezed into its first Southern Section final. Brothers Greg and Eric Zomalt, led the Cougars to a 48-12 semifinal victory over Norco. San Bernardino is also making its first appearance in a Southern Section final. The Cardinals defeated Corona in the semifinals, 22-11.
Placentia Valencia (12-0-1) vs.
Newport Beach Corona del Mar (11-0-2)
Tonight at Orange Coast College, 7:30
Valencia, defending Southern Section Central Conference champion, is looking to repeat after defeating Fullerton in the semifinals, 20-6. Corona del Mar defeated Garden Grove Pacifica in the semifinals, 14-7, to advance to its first final.
Santa Maria (12-1) vs. San Marino (11-0-1)
Saturday at San Marino HS, 7:30
Santa Maria has 12-straight victories, including a 14-7 semifinal win over Temple City. San Marino's defense has allowed only 3.3 points a game. The Titans defeated Lompoc in the semifinals, 30-7.
Irvine Woodbridge (12-1) vs.
Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills (11-2)
Tonight at Mission Viejo HS, 7:30
In an all-Pacific Coast League final, Woodbridge will be playing for its second consecutive Southern Section title after defeating Agoura in the semifinals, 21-0. The Warriors will be without Scott Seymour, their leading rusher, who suffered a broken collarbone against Agoura. Trabuco Hills, which defeated top-seeded Atascadero in the semifinals, 42-6, is making its first appearance in a final. In league, Trabuco Hills defeated Woodbridge, 17-13.
Tehachapi (11-2) vs. Carpinteria (11-2)
Saturday at Santa Barbara CC, 7:30
This is a rematch of last season's Inland Conference final, in which Carpinteria won, 27-0. Tehachapi beat Cerritos in the semifinals, 12-8, and Carpinteria beat Desert of Edwards Air Force Base, 35-8.