HARBOR CITY – It was fiery from the get-go in a rivalry game between two of the best teams in LA County. In a game that went back and forth and came down to the wire, Narbonne did just enough to secure the 28-21 win over Serra (Gardena) on Friday night.
The much-anticipated battle lived up to the hype in front of a sold-out crowd. Here are five takeaways from the game.
THE RIVALRY IS REAL
It’s not a secret that Narbonne and Serra have been battling for bragging rights as the best team in southern LA County for years now. Coming into this game, Narbonne had won three straight well-contested matchups against Serra. Both teams have had this game circled on their calendars since before the season began.
After talking some smack over social media in the days leading up to the game, the talk continued immediately once the teams took the field before tipoff. While there wasn’t much dirty play, the game was extremely physical and filled with verbal altercations. Players had to be separated numerous times. Both teams had a number of dramatic, showy celebrations after major plays.
While many players on these teams are good friends with each other off the field, this was destined to be a statement game no matter what.
Both teams were evenly matched, and brought it all game long. The game was somewhat of a defensive duel, so it’s hard to give credit to anything less than both teams’ entire defenses. And both teams’ offensive lines did a solid job holding the opposing defenses off enough to give their playmakers chances.
For Narbonne, Alonso Person was among those leading the charge defensively. His deflection with less than a minute left on a pass from Serra QB Doug Brumfield essentially iced the game. Macen Williams and Jared Greenfield led a great effort by the Gauchos’ secondary.
Jake Garcia threw three touchdown passes on the night, to Eren East, Jack Brown, and Traeshon Holden. Brown also had a solid night running the ball, and Holden had a kick return touchdown to open the second half. Holden also completed a shovel pass to Anthony Beavers Jr. for a two-point conversion.
WR/DB LV Bunkley was outstanding for Serra, especially in the second half. He was responsible for two of the Cavaliers’ touchdowns, a pick-six and a receiving touchdown from Brumfield. Bunkley made a number of difficult highlight receptions on the night. Brumfield and RB Elijah Davis were both solid for Serra. Davis had a rushing touchdown.
Serra had a strong night defensively, picking Garcia twice, which is very rare. Lineman Corey Martin led the charge and recovered a fumble. Along with Bunkley, Justin Houston made one of the two interceptions. While they didn’t get the win, holding Narbonne to 28 points is nothing to scoff at.
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Down by only one score, Serra had the ball around Narbonne’s 30-yard line with just under a minute left. It took a couple phenomenal catches by LV Bunkley to manufacture the drive for Serra. But the Cavaliers ran out of gas as Alonso Person deflected one pass and Bunkley dropped another catchable pass. The turnover on downs with less than a minute left sealed it.
THEY SAID IT
Last week, Jake Garcia went on record saying he has the best receiving core in the country.
This week he took it one step further:
“To be one hundred percent honest with you…my team is honestly the best team, in my opinion, in the country, all-around,” he told Scorebook Live after the game. He also said to expect zero losses for the rest of the season.
When Narbonne is at their best, there are only a couple dozen or so teams in the country that have a chance against them. For such a talented team, they played nearly as bad as they could three weeks ago when they were upset by Lone Peak. And since getting that out of their systems, they’ve dominated St. Paul, dominated Orange Lutheran, and now beaten another national powerhouse in Serra.
SERRA STILL LOOKED LIKE MISSION LEAGUE FAVORITES
Despite failing to pull out the victory, Serra looked the part of a potential Mission League champion. As good as the likes of Notre Dame and Alemany have been to start the season, Narbonne is generally on another level. And Serra gave the Gauchos a run for their money on a night when Narbonne wasn’t conceding an inch.
Plus, this is only the Cavaliers’ first loss of the season. Don’t forget, they’re only two weeks removed from a huge road win over Calabasas.
While this loss was very disappointing for Serra, who held a lead for much of the first half, it is in no way indicative that they aren’t where they need to be with league play soon approaching.