As Mason White of Lake Balboa Birmingham held up the City Section Open Division championship plaque in the middle of El Camino College’s football field late Friday night, a teammate shouted, “It’s back where it belongs.”
The Patriots (8-4) are back on top in City Section football for the first time since 2007 after a 27-20 victory over Wilmington Banning in which junior quarterback Jackson Dadich completed his final 13 passes and kept the ball out of the hands of the Pilots for the final 5 minutes, 31 seconds.
“I think he did a fantastic job,” receiver Arlis Boardingham said. “He delivered some darts.”
Said White: “He was on fire.”
Dadich completed 20 of 28 passes for 274 yards and touchdowns of 10 and 27 yards to Gozalo Robledo, 38 yards to White and eight yards to Marcus Arthur. After starting the game three of 10 passing, he finished completing 17 of his last 18 passes. He also picked up the decisive first down on fourth-and-four from the Banning 44-yard line with 1:29 left on an eight-yard scramble.
“Nothing was open,” Dadich said. “I had to keep it on my own.”
Birmingham needed standout performances from its four likely All-City players — Dadich, White, Robledo and Boardingham — to overcome the persistent, determined play of Banning quarterback Jake Otto. From an opening 68-yard, 11-play drive, when Otto completed all four of his passes and scored on a seven-yard run, he wasn’t going to let the Patriots win without a fight. He ran for 80 yards and passed for 122 yards on a rainy, chilly night.
Banning pulled to within 21-20 with nine seconds left in the third quarter on Jakob Galloway’s second short touchdown run. But Dadich and his receivers couldn’t be stopped.
White caught seven passes for 91 yards. Boardingham had four receptions for 73 yards. Robledo caught four passes for 55 yards.
“We just kept our cool,” Dadich said.
Mason White is the Matt Slater of high school special teams players. 16th career block for Birmingham. pic.twitter.com/Q3O6y69vYd— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) November 30, 2019
Matthew Slater has spent 12 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots as a well-known special teams player, and White is his high school version. In three varsity seasons, he has blocked 16 punts, field goals or extra points. His block of a 35-yard field-goal attempt by Banning early in the second quarter ignited the Patriots. He charged in from left end, sent his body flying and got his hands out to block the kick.
Birmingham capitalized by scoring on an eight-yard touchdown catch by Arthur to close to 7-6. Then Robledo put the Patriots up 14-7 at halftime with a 10-yard touchdown reception from Dadich and a two-point conversion catch with seven seconds left.
Birmingham coach Jim Rose felt a burden lifted from his shoulders with the win. He replaced Ed Croson in 2009 and had been trying to join Croson, Troy Starr (Taft) and Jeff Engilman (Sylmar) as coaches from the San Fernando Valley who won upper division titles in the past 30 years.
“It’s good company,” he said.
Arlis Boardingham. Soph. Birmingham. pic.twitter.com/l40Nnu6LjW— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) November 30, 2019
In the eight-man final, Animo Robinson won its third consecutive title by defeating North Valley Military 92-84.