PREP WRAPUP : Banning Football Coach Dominguez Is Trying to Ease Tensions With Dorsey
The Banning High football team drew national attention earlier this season when it refused to play a game at Dorsey’s home field because of the fear of violence.
More than a month later, Coach Joe Dominguez says he would like the controversy to end as Banning and Dorsey prepare to meet next weekend in the City Section 4-A Division championship game.
But is Dorsey willing to comply?
After the Dons defeated Sylmar, 40-13, in a semifinal game Friday, Dorsey running back Brian Benbow said his team hasn’t forgotten the Nov. 1 forfeit, which led to sanctions against Banning.
“We’ve got a grudge against Banning because we took it as a personal insult,” Benbow said.
In response, Dominguez tried to smooth over any hard feelings.
“All I can say is we’re anxious to play for the City championship,” he said Saturday. “We don’t hold any animosity toward (Dorsey). If they do, that’s unfortunate. It’s just game No. 14 for us. That’s how we’re looking at it.
“I don’t think there will be any added incentive. I don’t think a City championship game needs any more incentive.”
The site, date and starting time for the game are expected to be announced Monday. Dominguez said he was told by a Banning administrator that the game will probably be played at East Los Angeles College on Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
It has also been rumored that City officials plan to have Banning and Dorsey players meet for a luncheon this week in an effort to defuse a potentially volatile situation.
“I’ve heard there might be a luncheon or a barbecue, but I don’t know if anything has been finalized,” Dominguez said. “If it has, I haven’t been notified.”
Regardless if the teams meet for a peace talk before the game, Dominguez says he does not expect any problems.
“What you’re going to see is two good teams playing for the City championship, nothing more, nothing less,” he said. “I think the players and coaches from both schools want to put (the controversy of the forfeit) to rest.
“It’s good that we’re playing each other so all this can get resolved this year. Then next year all this will be behind us.”
Banning tailback Shayzar Hawkins continued his run through the playoffs Friday night by rushing for 200 yards and four touchdowns in 22 carries to help the Pilots to a 26-6 semifinal victory over host Kennedy of Granada Hills.
Hawkins has rushed for 602 yards and 10 TDs in three playoff games, increasing his season total to 1,716 yards and moving within striking range of Banning’s single-season rushing record.
He needs 46 yards against Dorsey to surpass the record held by Stanley Wilson, who rushed for 1,761 yards in 1977.
Wilson, who played for Oklahoma and the Cincinnati Bengals before drug problems ended his career, was a two-time City player of the year at Banning. Hawkins was a backup defensive back before this season.
“If you had told me in August, before we were in pads, that Shayzar Hawkins had a chance to break the school record in rushing, I would have been surprised,” Dominguez said.
Hawkins broke open a close game Friday night with three fourth-quarter touchdowns. His scoring runs covered 55, eight, 56 and three yards.
“Shayzar kind of took over,” Dominguez said. “And the defense played sound the whole game.”
San Pedro football Coach Mike Walsh charged an official with bias against his team after the Pirates lost to Crenshaw, 10-7, Friday night in a City 3-A semifinal game at Gardena High.
Walsh said the back judge, who he could not name, was involved in several controversial calls that went against San Pedro. Two years ago, Walsh said the same official threatened to “get even” with the Pirates after he was involved in a verbal altercation with San Pedro coaches and players following a game at Washington High.
Walsh also said he saw the official hug Crenshaw Coach Robert Garrett after Friday’s game.
“I almost fell on the ground when he did it,” Walsh said.
After reviewing a video of the game, Walsh said the most damaging call the official made against San Pedro occurred early in the fourth quarter with the Pirates leading, 7-3.
Tailback Ambrose Russo broke a 55-yard run to give San Pedro first and goal at the Crenshaw eight-yard line. On the next play, fullback Carlos Cruz was called for holding by the official in question, Walsh said. The penalty moved the Pirates back to the 18. Four plays later, a 27-yard field goal attempt by George Ortiz was blocked.
“The holding call was non-existent,” Walsh said. “The guy he called it on (Cruz) didn’t block anybody. He got hit. It’s clear as a bell on the film. But sour grapes don’t do any good.”
Two plays later, Walsh said the same official missed an obvious pass interference call against Crenshaw on San Pedro receiver Bryant Thomas, who did appear to get pushed in the back before the ball arrived.
Walsh said not scoring after driving inside Crenshaw’s 10 was the turning point for San Pedro, which lost on a late Cougar touchdown.
“That was the ballgame,” he said. “If we had scored there, they never would have come back.”