Who would have predicted before the 2019 high school football season began that Reseda and Gardena would be the lone City Section teams still playing into the final weekend of the season?
Reseda (11-3) is set to play Milpitas (8-6) in the CIF state championship Division 5-A bowl game and Gardena (11-4) will play San Francisco Lincoln (11-1) for the Division 7-AA championship on Saturday at sites to be announced. Both schools will be taking long bus trips to Northern California and couldn’t be happier.
“It’s definitely very cool. And a little surreal,” Reseda coach Alonso Arreola said. “Last night I was trying to take it in and watch the kids. Everyone is super excited.”
Said Gardena coach Jim McElroy: “Oh man. It’s taken a lot of preparation.”
Reseda earned a bowl bid because of the new CIF rule that only champions can participate. Reseda won the Division I championship. Last season the Open Division runner-up went to a bowl game instead of the Division I champion. Gardena earned an invite after winning the Division III championship. The Panthers went 0-10 in 2016 and 2017 before McElroy arrived in 2018 to begin to turn around the program.
Reseda had high hopes for this season and upgraded its schedule knowing it wanted to compete against better teams, playing Crenshaw for the first time before losing in a close game. Now the Regents have reached peak form with their outstanding passing attack that features top receivers and quarterback Trent Butler.
“We started playing well and limiting our mistakes,” Arreola said. “Last night was one of the first games we haven’t had any 15-yard penalties. Our discipline has been increasing. We’ve been under control and our playmakers have been making plays and our linemen up front have been working their butt off.”
Reseda defeated Esperanza 28-0 on Saturday night in the regional final.
Now Arreola and McElroy must make transportation plans while also having one more week of practice. It’s been a season to remember.