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Out-of-State Opponent Gives Serra a Chance to Get Back to Basics

Serra High football Coach Jon Dimalante says he is treating his team’s matchup against Basic of Las Vegas as just another game.

But even Dimalante acknowledges that it is a little out of the ordinary.

After all, how many schools from the South Bay have an opportunity to play a team from another state?

“We traded films with them and we don’t know anything about the teams they played,” Dimalante said. “So it’s a little different but it will seem like just another football game once we get on the field.”

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The game was actually arranged by former Serra Coach Leo Hand, who needed an opponent to fill out the team’s schedule.

At the same time, Basic Coach Rich Whitehead also happened to be in the market for a game.

“It was sort of by happenstance,” Whitehead said. “We were trying to schedule a game and we called La Serna (of Whittier) and they already had a game, but they said they heard that Serra was still looking. So we called them and that’s how it came about.”

Whitehead said it isn’t as if his school makes a habit of playing games outside of Nevada. As far as anyone knows this is the first time Basic has played a team from the South Bay since 1954, when Hawthorne beat the Wolves, 39-13, in the Southern Section Northern Division final.

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“I’m really apprehensive of traveling myself,” he said. “We haven’t traveled (out of state) since 1974, so this is really a new experience for us.”

In order to make the trip more manageable, Whitehead said the Wolves will take a 5 1/2-hour bus ride after school today to stay overnight at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro. The team arranged to stay at the base through the school’s ROTC program.

Basic will then make the considerably shorter bus ride from El Toro to Serra’s campus in Gardena on Friday.

Once the team takes the field, Whitehead says, he isn’t sure what to expect. Basic is 2-1, having defeated Sweetwater of San Diego last week in Las Vegas. Serra is 1-1, but Whitehead is worried about playing the Cavaliers.

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“We actually have about 2,000 students, so in numbers we’re larger than they are, but talent-wise we’d like to have some of their kids,” he said. “We really didn’t know how good they were when we scheduled the game but we looked at them on film and they’re pretty impressive.”

Dimalante doesn’t expect an easy game.

“They’re a well-coached football team and they’re very disciplined,” he said. “They don’t have quite the speed we have but they’re a good team.”

Whether the Wolves are a difficult opponent or not, Dimalante is happy that Serra doesn’t have a bye this week. He said the school has had difficulty filling its schedule with South Bay opponents, perhaps because the Cavaliers have a 24-1 record over the previous two seasons.

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Serra has played Crespi of Encino and Bloomington and has an open date next week before completing its nonleague schedule Oct. 11 at Lompoc.

“I think some of it’s due to our success and some of it’s due to who has openings when we do,” Dimalante said. “But we really don’t care where (our opponent) is from as long as we can fill our schedule.”

When he first started searching for an opponent, Whitehead said, he was hoping to schedule a home-and-home series. But don’t be surprised if Serra doesn’t make a return trip to Las Vegas in the near future.

“We were trying to get a team that would come here for a game, too, but seeing how good they are, maybe it’s for the better,” Whitehead said.

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It will be a rarity when Banning plays host to Taft of Woodland Hills in a nonleague football game tonight at Banning.

In fact, it will be the first time since the mid 1980s that the Pilots have played a night game on their home field.

Because of the limited capacity at Banning, where there are only about 1,500 seats, the Pilots usually play their home games at Gardena High and have also used Harbor College in recent years.

Coach Joe Dominguez said the Pilots are playing tonight’s game at Banning largely because of budget cutbacks in the L.A. Unified School District. He said the school is saving money on stadium and bus rental by playing at home.

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“It’s rough for us to be playing night games at home at Banning because we really don’t have the seating capacity, but we’re doing it mostly because of the cutbacks,” he said. “We don’t mind playing a night game at Banning, but the seating is going to be tight.”

Banning doesn’t expect too many Taft fans to make the drive to Wilmington for the game.

With the budget cutbacks in the school district, Dominguez said he doesn’t know if tonight’s home game will be a one-time event or the start of a trend for the school.

“The district has made a lot of cutbacks and this is one way to save money,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re going to have any more (night) games here. To me, it doesn’t matter where we play our games. We just want to play football.”

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Over the years, Carson and Granada Hills have had two of the most successful football programs in the L.A. City Section.

However, both will enter their matchup Friday night at Granada Hills after a loss.

Carson (1-1) saw its 11-game winning streak end in a 30-18 loss to Morse of San Diego last week and Granada Hills lost its opener to Washington, 42-24.

It wasn’t a memorable game for Carson, which committed four turnovers and had two punts blocked, although it didn’t help that the Colts were playing one of the top-ranked teams in the state.

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They will not have a similar problem against Granada Hills, which has had difficulty against Carson in the past, including a 57-13 loss to the Colts in the City playoffs last season. Carson has an 8-4 lead in the overall series and the Colts have an impressive 46-10 advantage against San Fernando Valley teams.

Granada Hills reportedly has its most inexperienced team in seven seasons under Coach Darryl Stroh. Only three starters returned from last season, which may explain why the Highlanders allowed 378 total yards against Washington.

Notes

After the first two weeks of the season, there are seven undefeated football teams remaining in the South Bay: Banning, Peninsula, Hawthorne, Morningside, South Torrance, Redondo and San Pedro. The number figures to drop by at least one when Peninsula plays host to Redondo on Friday afternoon in its first-ever home game. . . . St. Monica’s football team is 0-2 and has been outscored, 94-0, since Angelo Jackson left to become the coach at Inglewood. The Sentinels, meanwhile, are 1-1 after a 26-6 victory over Crenshaw. . . . The Torrance girls’ volleyball team upset Mira Costa, ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section 5-A Division, 15-11, 15-5, 17-15, Tuesday night in a nonleague match at Torrance. Kim Blankinship had 27 kills to lead the Tartars, who won the Arcadia Invitational last weekend. Mira Costa is 3-1. . . . The Peninsula girls’ cross-country team is ranked 11th in the New Jersey-based SportHill Preseason National High School Team Rankings. The Panthers are ranked No. 4 in the state in Division I in a poll by the California Track and Cross Country Coaches Alliance and the Peninsula boys are ranked No. 3.

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