Dorsey defeats rival Crenshaw to take Coliseum League title

Dorsey quarterback Joshua Coleman runs toward the sideline to escape Crenshaw defenders during the first half.
Dorsey quarterback Joshua Coleman runs toward the sideline to escape Crenshaw defenders during the first half of Friday’s game.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

For the first time in two years, Crenshaw, dressed in its classic gold and blue uniforms, played Dorsey, wearing its vintage white and green jerseys, on Friday night in the resumption of a high school football rivalry that has annually featured some of Los Angeles’ finest athletes.

Both schools dug deep to even get to this point amid declining enrollments, COVID-19 issues and bureaucratic roadblocks that have produced obstacle after obstacle.

Dorsey (8-2, 5-0) won the Coliseum League championship with a 27-6 victory at Crenshaw (4-3, 3-1). Even though it was Week 10, the teams played as if it were August.


They combined for nine fumbles and 30 penalties (18 on Dorsey). It’s hard to play mistake-free football when you have to endure constant changes in personnel and practice scheduling.

Venice defensive end and tight end Thomas Kensinger is an avid hiker and Boy Scout with a 4.27 grade-point average and an interest in attending MIT.

Oct. 27, 2021

Remember this season started with neither team allowed to play opening games. Dorsey couldn’t get enough players declared eligible because of a lack of nurses to conduct COVID-19 testing. Crenshaw had only 14 players on its football roster.

First-year coach Stafon Johnson at Dorsey and veteran coach Robert Garrett at Crenshaw both refused to be deterred despite repeated challenges. The first half alone wasn’t exactly the best rendition of football for two proud programs.

There were 18 penalties (nine on each) and eight fumbles. Dorsey came away with a 14-6 halftime lead after Dewayne Byrdsong’s 15-yard touchdown run with 1:11 left.

Dorsey running back Harrison Allen reaches out but can't make a catch as Crenshaw's Andrew Wynn tries to cover him.
Dorsey running back Harrison Allen reaches out but can’t make a catch as Crenshaw’s Andrew Wynn tries to cover him during the first half Friday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Harrison Allen started the scoring with a one-yard touchdown for the Dons. In the second quarter, Zion Bennett made a terrific catch for a seven-yard touchdown to pull Crenshaw to within 7-6.

“I’ve been here four years and I have seen my team rise,” Bennett said.

Bennett, a 6-foot-3 senior, did his best to spark the Cougars. He also had a sack on defense and a long punt return before losing the ball on a fumble.

Javuan Lewis of Dorsey scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 9:38 left to give the Dons a 14-point cushion. Mychai Williams contributed his ninth interception of the season.

The fact the game was played at all was a victory itself. Crenshaw had to miss a game and practice all last week after its opponent, View Park Prep, had a player test positive for COVID-19.

Crenshaw wide receiver Zion Bennett hangs on for a touchdown catch in front of Dorsey's Mychai Williams in the first half.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Now there’s uncertainty whether Crenshaw will have enough vaccinated players to participate in next week’s playoffs. Schools have until noon Saturday to notify the City Section whether they will opt out of the playoffs. A minimum of 18 vaccinated players is required on a roster. As of Friday at 12:30 p.m, 13 Crenshaw players had uploaded their vaccination status to the LAUSD portal, the school’s athletic director, Chris Burgess, said. The deadline to be fully vaccinated to keep playing on sports teams in LAUSD is Sunday.

Around 4:30 p.m. Friday, the school’s principal, assistant principal and athletic director entered the football office. Noise coming from the office sounded as if an intense meeting with Garrett was unfolding behind the closed door. At 4:45, the meeting ended. Garrett declined to discuss specifics other than some kind of issue had been resolved. It was more drama in a season never lacking in it.