Whittier’s Ancich familiar with both Southeast Division finalists

Saturday night’s CIF-SS Southeast Division final between La Serna and Norwalk will be a battle of efficient, hard-nosed teams that have found very different but effective ways of putting the ball in the end zone.
That’s the opinion of Whittier High coach Visko Ancich, whose team was the only common opponent between this year’s finalists. La Serna (11-2) gets it done with its spread attack, run brilliantly by three-year varsity starter Frankie Palmer. Norwalk (13-0) relies almost exclusively on the run game out of its Double Wing T, with a massive front line clearing the way for senior sensation Rashaad Penny.
“They run completely different schemes on offense,” said Ancich, “but they both run their stuff very well. … Neither team makes mistakes, and they both know how to move the ball up and down the field.”
Whittier faced Norwalk during nonleague play and suffered a 45-0 loss. Penny didn’t have one of his huge games – 131 yards, four TDs – but Norwalk rushed for over 400 yards and scored six touchdowns. During Del Rio League play, Whittier saw Palmer run wild in a 56-7 loss. In just over a half of play, Palmer threw for 198 yards and three TDs, and ran for 112 yards and another score.
Penny has rushed for nearly 2,400 yards and scored 49 TDs. His older brothers – Robert and Elijhaa – both starred at Norwalk as well, but Rashaad has surpassed both. Palmer has nearly 2,900 combined passing and rushing yards this season, and he scored nine rushing TDs to go with 20 through the air.
“They both have that superstar power,” Ancich said, “La Serna with Frankie, and Norwalk with Penny and his family history and his 8 million touchdowns.”
Ancich saw Penny play as a sophomore when Ancich was an assistant at St. Paul, and he’s seen vast improvement from then to now. Penny also plays defense and special teams for Norwalk.
“He doesn’t leave the field,” Ancich said. “Offense, defense, special teams … he’s on the field for 150 plays a game, and he’s playing hard the whole time.
“It should be a great game,” Ancich added, “with two coaches (La Serna’s Margarito Beltran and Norwalk’s Jesse Ceniceros) who believe in hard-nosed football. … Neither team is relying on tricking you, that’s for sure.”

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