South Torrance rolls past Canoga Park for a state bowl bid

South Torrance players celebrate their 47-28 win over Canoga Park on Dec. 6, 2019.
South Torrance players celebrate their 47-28 win over Canoga Park to earn a trip next weekend to play for the 6-AA state bowl championship.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Kade Jones of South Torrance, a 5-foot-10 junior defensive back, keeps daring quarterbacks to throw the football in his direction. It really is a fool’s errand.

He came into Friday’s CIF Division 6-AA regional championship bowl game against Canoga Park with 10 interceptions, and the Hunters must not have not believed the stats, because on their first play from scrimmage, quarterback David Gomez threw a short pass that seemed to hang forever, and Jones stepped in on the right flat to make his 11th interception and return it 26 yards untouched for a touchdown.

“It’s almost become a knack,” coach Matt Mishler said of Jones’ interceptions. “He has great instincts, great ball skills and speed.”


South Torrance (11-4), the Southern Section Division 14 champion, rolled to a 47-28 victory over the City Section Division II champions to earn a trip next weekend to play for the 6-AA state bowl championship. The Spartans better make sure they rent a comfortable charter bus, because they’re facing a 10-hour, 657-mile trip to Eureka to face St. Bernard’s Academy.

Chayden Peery completed 16 of 18 passes as Sierra Canyon beat La Mesa Helix 38-20 and advanced to the state championship final against Fresno Central.

Dec. 6, 2019

Senior quarterback Drew Nash twice hooked up with Cadar Bargar for touchdown passes of 70 and 74 yards. He finished 11 of 12 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns. The Spartans held a 34-14 halftime lead.

John Aponte, the former Wilmington Banning head coach who joined South Torrance as offensive coordinator, praised the performance of Nash, who’s also a baseball player.

“He’s amazing,” Aponte said. “He’s like another coach out there. He’s such a leader.”

Canoga Park (12-3) waited too long to get the ball to its playmakers, Joshua Christopher and Dominic Arango-Serna. Christopher had a 36-yard touchdown catch and Arango-Serna had a 21-yard touchdown catch following an 83-yard kickoff return. Jorge Hernandez finished with 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Jones had to leave the game in the second quarter with a hip flexor injury and was on the sideline on crutches, but he still wasn’t backing down from quarterbacks trying to challenge him.

“They try to test me every week,” Jones said. “They don’t believe it.”

He almost had two more interceptions, but he dropped the passes.

In the 7-AA regional bowl, City Section Division III champion Gardena defeated San Diego Francis Parker 27-13 to advance to next weekend’s state final against San Francisco Lincoln. Duran Wallace, Deajon Little and Eddie Seale led the Gardena defense with interceptions. It’s a huge accomplishment for second-year coach Jim McElroy, who took over a program last year that had recorded consecutive 0-10 seasons.


Honor for Bryce Young: Santa Ana Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young has been selected the Gatorade state player of the year in football. He’s one of three finalists for national player of the year. The Alabama commit passed for 58 touchdowns this season.

Claiborne steps down: Chris Claiborne has resigned as football coach at Calabasas after two seasons. The former USC and NFL linebacker said he wants to pursue college coaching.