One tradition came to an end while another was extended Friday night in Bishop Amat High School's 27-6 victory over Servite in front of 5,000 in Kiefer Stadium.
Bishop Amat (6-3, 3-0) clinched at least a tie for the Angelus League title with one game remaining against St. Paul. It was Bishop Amat's fifth consecutive league title.
Servite's streak of qualifying for the playoffs 18 consecutive years, the longest run in the Southern Section, is over. Servite (3-6, 1-2) has one game remaining with Mater Dei, but its loss to St. Paul last week means the Friars are eliminated.
"Each one gets better," said Mark Paredes, Bishop Amat coach. "It got a little hairy when we lost (Jeremy) Smith because our whole game plan was to get the ball to him."
Smith, who moved from wide receiver to tailback, left the game midway through the second quarter with a concussion and his team leading, 14-6. Smith made the most of his playing time, gaining 72 yards in 8 carries and scoring on a 92-yard kickoff return.
Smith also had a 70-yard touchdown run nullified by a clipping penalty on the first play of the game. Smith's replacement, Motu Ili, also posted some big numbers, gaining 122 yards in 13 carries and scoring twice.
"They were by far the best team we've played," said Larry Toner, Servite's first-year coach. "They were bigger, faster and stronger than us. They're powerful and well-coached. A fine team."
Servite surprised Bishop Amat by opening a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when tailback Kent Weiss capped an 80-yard drive with a two-yard run. But Servite never came close to scoring again.
Quarterback Rob Walker, benched last week after throwing three interceptions in the first half against St. Paul, was inconsistent once again. Walker completed only 12 of 28 passes for 144 yards with most of the yardage coming against reserves in the fourth quarter.
Bishop Amat's defense, led by linebackers Jason Patterson and Alex Pacheco, sacked Walker four times and limited Weiss to 56 yards in 14 carries.