By Fred J. Robledo
LONG BEACH – La Serna High School was such an unlikely visitor at Monday’s CIF-Southern Section football champions luncheon in Long Beach that when Fox Sports’ Chris McGee introduced them, he called them the Bearcats instead of the Lancers. La Serna (10-3), a third-place finisher from the Del Rio League, dominated Muir 28-3 in the Southeast Division semifinals to advance to Friday’s championship against defending champion and top-seeded West Covina (12-1), which routed all three playoff opponents, including La Mirada 63-34 in the semifinals. (To Continue click thread)
La Serna making first trip to finals since 1967: Forty-four years is a long time, but for La Serna High football fans it’s been worth the wait. La Serna is returning to a CIF-Southern Section title game for the first time since 1967. The Lancers, thanks to their 28-3 upset of Muir last Friday, will meet West Covina on Friday night for the Southeast Division title.
West Covina coach Mike Maggiore is well aware the Bulldogs will be huge favorites after winning all three playoffs games by a combined 34 points. But you would never hear him admit it or have a slip of the tongue like McGee.
“It’s a championship game,” Maggiore said. “I try to convince our guys that if you have one bad game it can happen, you can lose. There are no guarantees.
“They’re (La Serna) going to play their best football against us and they have been playing their best football. They beat an athletic Muir team pretty good and they’re obviously well-coached.”
On the other hand, Maggiore likes how his team has handled the role of being defending champion.
“We’ve been ranked first the whole season and everyone expects so much out of us,” Maggiore said. “Sometimes that’s the recipe for disaster or an upset, but so far it’s been a testament to our guys and how much they want to win it again.
“They don’t want to slip up. They want to continue to get better. I tell them all the time, it’s not who you’re playing, it’s how we’re playing. I expect them to give me a good week of practice like they always do and we’ll see what happens on Friday.”
Reigning Tribune Player of the Year Chris Solomon and running back Jimmy Frazier also spoke with cautious optimism.
“We’re going to watch film and see what they do,” Solomon said. “They’re in the championship for a reason. It won’t be an easy game. We learned that last year (beating Bonita for the championship).
“You have to earn it. Nobody is going to give it to you.”
Frazier didn’t make the trip to Long Beach last year. He appeared to be enjoying the experience and lunch that comes with it.
“It’s exciting to be here with all the teams in the finals,” Frazier said. “It’s a real good vibe. But we have to stay focused on the game. We want another championship, that’s all we’re thinking about.”
La Serna is the designated home team for the final and would like to play it at California High School, where it plays its home games.
However, with only 1,500 seats on the visitors’ side, West Covina is trying to move the game to an alternate location, which is being discussed.
Friday’s game will be shown live on FoxSportsWest.com’s website as part of the FoxSports Prep Zone package.
FoxSports is showing all 13 divisional title games Friday and Saturday, either on television or the Internet.
“It’s a great thing for the kids. They get a chance to be on TV or the Internet,” Maggiore said. “You get to this point in a season you should get rewarded. You usually watch (higher division) games on television, but some schools like us rarely get a chance.
“It’s a great memory to save, download and have to replay. I’m glad they’re doing it.”
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