The City Section Open Division football final on Friday at 7 p.m. at El Camino College has a return-to-glory theme.
Banning (7-4) has won 12 City championships, its last in 2000. Birmingham (7-4) has won five City titles, its last in 2007.
Both head coaches have been trying to restore the championship traditions with alumni staffs. Raymond Grajeda took over in 2017 at Banning and had to deal with 16 players leaving for rival Carson. That was a vote of no confidence. But the players who stayed, like quarterback Jake Otto, have shown the Pilots the way back to the championship game.
Jim Rose was the defensive coordinator for Ed Croson when he took over in 2009 after Croson left for Chaminade. The expectations were very high, and Birmingham initially struggled. But Rose began to turn out consistent teams that even gave the new power, Narbonne, competitive games. With the talented Mason White performing on offense and defense and new quarterback Jackson Dadich, the Patriots have fought their way back to the final.
It’s a pretty evenly matched final. Birmingham must stop sophomore running back Jakob Galloway and prevent Otto from scrambling for big yards.
Banning must handle the Patriots’ passing attack and always be aware of where White is on the field.
Narbonne, the five-time defending champion that has dominated City football, was banned from this year’s playoffs when the Los Angeles Unified School District reported that the Gauchos had multiple ineligible players on this year’s roster.
That opened the door for Banning and Birmingham to have a chance to recapture the glory of the past.