The Banning High football team faced a hostile mob Friday night.
But the angry folks from Dorsey were tame compared to what awaits the Pilots in the L.A. City 4-A championship game.
Ready or not, here comes Carson and its aerial circus, which is flying high after Friday night’s 57-13 victory over Granada Hills at Veterans Stadium. Quarterback John Walsh passed for 340 yards and four touchdowns as the Colts secured their 10th consecutive trip to the City final.
It sets up a classic swan song for Coach Gene Vollnogle. Appropriately, he’ll face his old nemesis, Banning, in the last game of his 38-year career. The Pilots escaped with a 21-20 semifinal victory over Dorsey at Gardena High on tailback Travis Davis’ 13-yard touchdown run and Ricardo Robledo’s conversion kick with 1:28 remaining.
The championship game is scheduled for Friday night at El Camino College, where Banning (9-3) and Carson (11-1) will go at it for the 38th time. Carson leads the series, 21-16.
Some of the colorful sidelights include:
* The emotion of Vollnogle, 60, coaching his last game before retirement.
* Walsh’s pursuit of the national single-season passing record.
* Banning’s attempt to end a six-game losing streak against its rival, the longest streak in the 28-year series.
Banning Coach Joe Dominguez is confident his team will put forth a better effort than it did Oct. 12, when Carson opened a 20-0 first-quarter lead with three Walsh touchdown passes on its way to a 41-14 victory at Veterans Stadium.
“I think we’re a much more sound team, offensively and defensively,” Dominguez said. “The key for us is to get off to a good start. Our team can come back from a one- or two-touchdown deficit, but we can’t let them get three touchdowns up in the first quarter. I think our kids realize that.
“We’ll come out and play a little more intense. (Carson) creates a lot of problems with their offense. John Walsh is a fine quarterback and he has a great supporting cast around him. So, we’ve got to stop them occasionally and we’ve got to control the ball. (Walsh) can’t throw touchdowns if we’ve got the ball.
“But it’s easy to say that. It’s a whole different thing to control the ball, because their defense gets overlooked. Everyone talks about their quarterback and their fine receivers and that great offense that they have, but they have a solid defense.”
Carson proved it again by intercepting four passes against Granada Hills. Two of the interceptions, by safety Tarriel Hopper and defensive end Marcus Long, were returned for touchdowns in the Colts’ 43-point second half.
There were some anxious moments at the conclusion of the Banning-Dorsey game when an angry group of Dorsey players and fans rushed across the field and confronted Banning.
Fortunately, no serious fighting took place as the coaching staffs and security people did a good job of keeping everyone separated.
Most of Dorsey’s frustration was directed at the officials, who cited the Dons for two pass interference penalties and unsportsmanlike conduct during Banning’s 83-yard, game-winning touchdown drive.
As a result of the three penalties, Banning went from having third and 17 at the Dorsey 47-yard line with 2:13 left, to first and 10 at the 13 with 1:34 remaining. Davis scored on the next play.
“I thought we played well enough to win the football game,” Dorsey Coach Paul Knox said. “We had a couple of close calls that killed us. I thought the (calls) were all very (questionable), but there’s nothing you can do about the officials.”
Asked about his team’s lack of composure after the game, which was stopped by officials with 15 seconds left, Knox replied: “That was more the people up in the stands who brought everybody over. Our kids are competitive. I think they’re real disappointed in the way the game turned out at the end. I don’t think they were happy with the officiating.”
Banning defensive tackle Brandon Johnson said the near-riot was a sad way for a great game to end.
“This isn’t necessary,” said Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound senior. “It’s just a game. We don’t want to fight them and I’m sure they don’t want to fight us. It seems like it’s just a bunch of the (Dorsey) alumni trying to jump into it. Everybody played a good game. I’d like to shake hands. I have no beef with them.”
Before he redeemed himself with the game-winning touchdown, Banning’s Davis was nearly the goat.
The senior tailback fumbled a pitch that Dorsey recovered at the Banning 28. Four plays later, on fourth and 19, Dorsey quarterback Lamont Warren hit 6-3 receiver Keyshaun Johnson, who outleaped the 6-foot Davis at the goal line to catch a 37-yard touchdown pass with 4:55 left and give the Dons a 20-14 lead.
Dominguez, though, didn’t hesitate to put the ball back in Davis’ hands on the game-winning march.
“Travis Davis was going to get the ball right back, no doubt about it,” Dominguez said. “One play doesn’t win a ball game. I would be just as proud of Travis Davis if we had lost; that’s the type of kid he is. Nobody felt worse than him (after the fumble), so we didn’t have to tell him.”
Somewhat overlooked was a solid effort turned in by Banning quarterback Anthony Nicholson.
On a night when Davis (50 yards rushing in 16 carries) wasn’t much of a factor, Nicholson came through by rushing for 72 yards and two touchdowns in 12 carries. He misfired on a few early passes, but completed all four of his second-half attempts to finish eight for 12 for 93 yards.