Longshoreman son blocking and tackling against longshoreman son. There’s nothing quite like Wilmington Banning facing San Pedro in high school football. These two proud, determined blue-collar communities always exude pride and toughness. Everyone knows each other from way back. Imagine what the collisions are like on a football field.
“It’s serious,” Banning offensive lineman Adrian Dominguez said.
On Friday, before the annual Marine League battle took place, Banning coach Raymond Grajeda said he expected lots of dinner wagers being placed on the docks along with “your kid has to come and clean my yard if we win.”
Both teams had to change game plans after losing their best players in the last week. Banning had to play without All-City running back Jakob Galloway, who gained 137 and 181 yards in his two games but was held out because of a bruised knee. He will be shut down through next week’s finale against Narbonne to make sure he’s healthy for the fall season.
San Pedro lost its starting quarterback, Dylan Kordic, who decided last Saturday to join the baseball team after waiting more than a year for the football season to get started. A Los Angeles Unified School District policy that won’t allow students to play for two different teams in the same season forced him to make an agonizing decision.
A frustrated San Pedro coach Corey Miller said: “I don’t blame the kid. I’m so angry with LAUSD. They should be ashamed and embarrassed.”
So on they played at Ferragamo Field, the palm trees beautifully backlit on the visitor’s side as the sun went down and San Pedro finally got to play in an official game after twice losing opponents to COVID-19 protocols.
The Pirates were more than ready. New quarterback Aiden Jackson completed 13 of 15 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns as San Pedro cruised to a 64-19 victory. Robert Sarmiento ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and ran back a punt for a touchdown. The Pirates held a 44-13 halftime lead.
Makani Konopka twice returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Chris Nix caught touchdown passes of 59 and 14 yards.
Banning (2-1) badly missed Galloway, who stood on the sideline wearing a backpack. His replacement, Emilio Villarreal, was dropped for losses on seven consecutive carries at one point before scoring on a 38-yard run.
San Pedro ends the spring season next week against Carson. The Pirates showed off a number of talented underclassmen, including sophomore lineman Jerry Witty, junior receivers Sarmiento and Kejuan Bullard and sophomore tight end Nick Fernandez. Beware of the Pirates come the fall of 2021.
The last time a City Section football championship game was held in 2019, the perpetual trophy went missing. Lake Balboa Birmingham won the championship that season but never got to retain the trophy for a year. Narbonne was the school last presented the trophy in 2018 but couldn’t find it.
The mystery of the missing trophy was solved two weeks ago when a Good Samaritan in Torrance found the trophy sticking out from trash bin, retrieved it, called the Southern Section office and brought it there.
Commissioner Vicky Lagos of the City Section went to Los Alamitos to pick it up, and on Friday night after Birmingham’s win against Taft, the trophy was presented to coach Jim Rose.
Thom Simmons of the Southern Section explained how the City Section trophy ended up at the Southern Section office.
“We had a lady who lives in Torrance call us,” he said. “She said she was on a walk and noticed this trophy sticking out of a trash bin. She pulled it out, read the names on the trophy. She called us, ‘Are you missing a trophy?'”
Simmons said the Southern Section asked her to bring in the trophy and they saw it was from the City Section. “It was a little dinged up but not too much,” Simmons said.
Lagos had the trophy cleaned and updated with all the City Section Division I and Open Division champions dating back to 1912.
A happy ending to a COVID-19 season that has one week remaining.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.