High school notebook: Taft gets first football win since 2017

Taft football players celebrate on the field.
Taft football players celebrate their first victory since 2017 after 43-6 win over Van Nuys.
(Taft High School)

Robert Padilla’s win-loss record playing for the Taft High football team since his freshman season was 0-24. So forgive him if he was a little excited counting down the final 10 seconds of Taft’s 43-6 win over Van Nuys on Friday night, the first Toreadors’ victory since the 2017 season.

“It feels like a dream,” he said. “It was an amazing rush of euphoria. We were predicted to go 0-10 like every other season. It was the best time of my life.”

First-year coach Jeff Kearin, who took over the position in late summer, once guided Los Angeles Loyola to a Southern Section Division 1 championship, but this moment was particularly satisfying.

“With all the enormity of these super elite programs that have changed the landscape of high school sports, to watch this team of home-grown kids win a game after so many years of not winning was pure joy,” he said. “It was so much fun seeing how much they enjoyed working toward a goal and finally getting a win.”


Padilla, a senior running back/linebacker whose father, Robert Sr., is an assistant coach for Taft, scored two touchdowns.

Asked how come he never quit, Padilla said, “I just love the game and the various friends that stuck with me. I’ve been pushed to the ground, beat up, everything you can imagine. It’s refreshing.”

Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps, dominates Texas 6A power Duncanville from the start in a 45-3 victory to open the football season.

Aug. 27, 2021

Running wild: Senior running back Max Garrison of La Canada St. Francis rushed for 362 yards in 20 carries and scored six touchdowns to help the Golden Knights defeat Manhattan Beach Mira Costa 44-35 in the first game for new coach Dean Herrington.

“He was amazing,” Herrington said. “He broke countless tackles.”

L.A. Lincoln triumphs: Lincoln coach Gabriel Cotero and Roosevelt coach Aldo Parral played against each other in high school for their alma maters, so they decided to renew the Lincoln-Roosevelt rivalry for the first time since 2005. Their game on Friday attracted a standing-room-only crowd at Roosevelt. Lincoln won 22-14 on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Ivan Plancarte, who also played safety and returned kickoffs.


“I’ve been coaching for more than 20 years, and it was one of the greatest performances I’ve seen. He never left the field,” Cotero said of Plancarte. “He must have had 15 solo tackles.”

Running back Andre Watkins led Lincoln (2-0) with close to 200 yards rushing.

Crenshaw to return: Crenshaw coach Robert Garrett said Saturday that he plans to have his team ready to face Roosevelt on Thursday in the Cougars’ first game of the season. Due to a lack of players, Crenshaw canceled its first two games. The Cougars are also facing a problem with their 2-year-old all-weather field. A foreign gooey substance has been showing up on shoes, forcing the team to practice on the baseball field.

“We’re just having bad luck all around,” Garrett said. “We’ll rise again.”