There was simply no antidote for the speed and athletic ability of Dranel Rhodes and Mario Martinez in the City Section Division I football final Saturday night at El Camino College.
The wideouts took turns afflicting El Camino Real’s secondary as Reseda put on an aerial display the likes of which is seldom seen in a championship game. Rhodes had touchdown catches of 53, 51 and 25 yards and a touchdown run of 26 yards, Martinez scored on a 63-yard pass play and a 15-yard run and each intercepted a pass to highlight a 44-26 victory over Woodland Hills El Camino Real.
“It’s all about our relationship for four years,” Martinez said. “They can’t guard both of us. We open things up for each other.”
By halftime, Rhodes had five catches for 150 yards, Martinez had three catches for 96 yards and the No. 2-seeded Regents had a 30-13 lead. Rhodes had another touchdown run nullified by a penalty. He even took his turn punting the ball and ran for 57 yards on direct snaps in the “Wildcat” formation.
“We don’t care who does what,” Rhodes said. “Sometimes they triple-team us, but you can’t stop us. The high ones aren’t 50-50 balls for me, they’re more like 90-10 balls.”
Quarterback Trent Butler completed eight of 21 passes for 246 yards and Kaden Jones rushed 15 times for 65 yards for Reseda (10-3), which beat the Conquistadors 28-14 in a nonleague meeting in August. Reseda captured its third City crown, having won the 2A Division in 1986 and the 3A Division in 1995 under former coach Joel Schaeffer.
Prophet Tagoai got the Regents on the scoreboard first with a two-yard run late in the first quarter, but the fourth-seeded Conquistadors (8-5) responded on KJ Lattimore’s three-yard scoring run to open the second quarter.
After Rhodes’ first two touchdown catches on back-to-back drives, El Camino Real pulled to within 18-13 on a 38-yard fumble return by Jose Castillon.
Matthew Abajian connected with Arcelles Johnson on a 90-yard touchdown pass and found Tyree Connor for a 45-yard scoring strike on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
Abajian completed 10 of 28 passes for 249 yards and Conner had three catches for 92 yards.
Canoga Park 28, Franklin 20: Jorge Hernandez rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns in 27 carries while Joshua Christopher caught touchdown passes of 39 and 29 yards in the first half as the Hunters built a 28-point lead and held on to beat the top-seeded Panthers.
Franklin (11-3) began its comeback on a 31-yard interception return by Brian Pelayo that cut the Franklin deficit to 28-7 less than one minute into the third quarter. Alfred Bobadilla threw 32-yard scoring passes to Christopher Quijada and Vincent Escobar to pull the Panthers within 28-20 entering the fourth quarter, but they failed to score inside the red zone twice in the final eight minutes.
Christopher broke up a fourth-and-goal pass by Bobadilla at the one-yard line with 7:52 left, but Franklin got another chance when it blocked a punt and recovered the ball at the Hunters’ six-yard line. However, Jacob Perez recovered a fumble by Bobadilla at the Canoga Park three-yard line two plays later with 3:33 left.
After Hernandez rumbled for 56 yards, he fumbled the ball forward. Cornerback Carlos Camacho scooped it up and returned it to the Panthers’ 30-yard line with 2:24 left, but on the Panthers’ ensuing possession Myles Jones deflected a fourth-down pass to give the Hunters the ball back and two kneel-downs later the game was over.
David Gomez completed eight of 16 passes for 124 yards as the second-seeded Hunters (12-2) claimed their third City title and first since winning the 3A division in 1981. Escobar caught six passes for 122 yards for Franklin (11-3), which was denied its first City crown since winning Division III in 2016.
Gardena 14, Marquez 8: Daquan Paul and Deajon Little each ran for a touchdown and Little intercepted a pass at his own three-yard line with 1:56 left to seal Gardena’s 14-8 victory over Huntington Park Marquez in the Division III final. Defensive end Tyrone McDaniel had three sacks as Gardena (10-4) captured its fifth City crown and first since winning Division II in 2000.
Erick Salas completed 23 of 38 pass attempts for 258 yards with three interceptions and Devin Vega had six catches for 86 yards for the Gladiators (13-1), who scored on a three-yard run by Juan Gonzalez early in the fourth quarter and got a safety on the final play of the game.