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Column: It’s a Dunn deal as Alemany slips past Crespi

Late field goal lifts Warriors.

It was back in January when Mission Hills Alemany pulled off the shocker of 2016, announcing the firing of Dean Herrington as football coach. He was only considered one of the best in the San Fernando Valley.

“I was stunned,” running back Cayden Dunn said. “The team was stunned. The school was stunned. All of Southern California was stunned.”

Brought in to pick up the pieces was James Washington, winner of two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. “We all decided to stick it out,” Dunn said.

Expectations weren’t exactly high for this season, but the Warriors are proving lots of skeptics wrong. They’re 2-0 in the Mission League after pulling out a 13-11 win over Encino Crespi on Friday night when Basilio Vives made a 20-yard field goal with 40 seconds left.

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No player has been more valuable than Dunn. He was a backup quarterback and receiver. He played running back late last season and Washington decided to move him there permanently after evaluating last year’s players on film. You can call Washington a genius now for the move.

Dunn came in with rushing games of 141, 116, 215, 152 and 251 yards. Against a terrific Crespi defense, he finished with 102 yards. Take away a 66-yard run in the third quarter, and Dunn would have been held to 36 yards in 13 carries. He had a touchdown on a one-yard run.

“Crespi was very smart at what they did keeping our offense off the field,” Dunn said.

Dunn, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior, didn’t even want to play running back.

“I played quarterback all my life,” he said. “My mom told me maybe it was a blessing in disguise. I’m glad I stuck it out.”

Crespi (2-3, 0-1) almost came away with the victory thanks to a game plan that saw the Celts control the game and the clock by running the ball with three backs and two tight ends. Most of the yards were gained running behind dominant left tackle Will Christensen, a junior star in the making. Miles Anderson rushed for 124 yards in 18 carries.

The Celts were behind, 10-8, at halftime, but took an 11-10 lead on a 43-yard field goal by Evan Silva with 9:41 left in the third quarter.

Twice Crespi’s defense stopped Alemany on fourth down in the second half. But the Warriors got the ball back with 2:34 left and drove down field behind quarterback Miles Bryant. He connected on a 27-yard pass to Jacob Perez and a 29-yard pass to Warren Jackson, setting up the game-winning field goal.

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Crespi hurt itself with 14 penalties. Bryant completed 13 of 20 passes for 197 yards for Alemany.

Give credit to Washington. The Warriors (2-4 overall) are coming together. “He’s brought a sense of integrity and family,” Dunn said.

And Washington has come to trust Dunn.

“He’s my heartbeat,” Washington said.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter @latsondheimer


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