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Updated Apr 30, 2015 - 2:13 pm

Fast Serra escapes slow and steady Desert Ridge at Brothers in Arms Classic

Photo by Kirt Winter

Serra’s Adoree’ Jackson scored a pair of electrifying touchdowns Saturday in his team’s victory over Desert Ridge at the Brothers in Arms Classic.

SAN DIEGO — By coach Scott Altenberg’s estimation, the Serra (Gardena, Calif.) football team spent 75 percent of its Saturday night game against Desert Ridge (Mesa, Ariz.) playing poorly.

That 25 percent where the Cavaliers played good football was simply electrifying – and it was enough to help the No. 10 team in the Xcellent 25 National Football Rankings leave Cathedral Catholic High with a 28-22 victory.

Photo by Kirt Winter

Serra’s Glen Ihenacho gets airborne Saturday in the
Brothers in Arms Classic.

Serra scored all of its points in the first half, then hold off a spirited rally by the Jaguars to earn the win in the Brothers in Arms Classic. The team speed was too much for the visitors to handle at first, but once Desert Ridge got its offense going in grind-it-out mode, a competitive match ensued.

“That wasn’t us. We
play a lot of big games and we finish well. Today we didn’t finish well
and I give credit to (Desert Ridge),” Altenberg said. “We played terribly on offense. We played one good quarter and then after that we got
complacent. I feel good about the fact we got a win.”

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That good quarter started about as good as one can start. The Cavaliers kicked off and actually recovered the ball, then on the next play Adoree’ Jackson ran into the end zone untouched.

Some showboating on the play nullified Jackson’s touchdown, but Serra scored on the drive with a five-yard scoring pass from Jalen Greene to Gregory Webb. Later in the quarter, Jackson showed off his athleticism with a 41-yard scoring pass play that was really just a short pass up the middle and Jackson racing to the end zone.

Serra also played well enough in the second quarter to get two more touchdowns, as Greene found Jordan Lasley for a 30-yard touchdown on a perfect fade route with 11:15 left in the second and then tossed another perfect fade to Jackson in the left corner for a 31-yard strike with 18 seconds left in the half.

But the negatives were beginning to show in the second quarter. Desert Ridge got its first touchdown of the game when Serra fumbled a snap on its own 1-yard line and Amonai itaaehau fell on the ball for six points with 1:06 left in the half.

The Cavaliers botched a punt snap in the third quarter to give Desert Ridge great field position and the Jaguars converted a 29-yard field goal by Landon Whitlow. Then they capped off a long drive on the first play of the fourth quarter with an eight-yard scoring run by Danny Siamau that made it 28-15.

Things got even worse on the ensuing kickoff, as the Jaguars raced down the field and recovered the kick – just like Serra had done to start the game. That break allowed Desert Ridge to score on a wacky play where offensive lineman Austin King recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 28-22 after the extra point attempt went wide.

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Desert Ridge just started too slow, coach Jeremy Hathcock said. His strategy of utilizing a ground-and-pound offense accomplished its goal of keeping the ball away from the Serra offense and it also wore the Cavaliers down a bit.

Photo by Kirt Winter

Desert Ridge’s Danny Siamau rushes in for a
touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“You can’t come out worse than we did and still be in the game. We are a dicscplined team and that (first half) was horrible to watch,” Hathcock said, adding that the slow-moving offense ended up doing what he expected. “We’re real physical for being little and they overwhelmed us early with speed. Once our kids settled down we were OK. My friend said be patient with little gains (on offense) and we were.

“I get to show my kids that they were right there with one of the best teams in the country.”

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The the ground-and-pound offense for Desert Ridge didn’t feature many big plays, unlike Serra, but it sure made a difference in the stat columns. The Jaguars rushed 52 times and passed six, while Serra ran 32 times and passed seven.

The team may have fallen into a lull of complacency, said Jackson, rated the No. 24 recruit in the nation by 247Sports.

“That was my fault. Being a leader, I let them get too relaxed,” said Jackson, who rushed six times for 17 yards and caught three passes for 88 yards in addition to blocking a point after attempt. He’s relishing his role as a big-time recruit and as a leader on the defending state champions.

“I like the pressure, I like the expectations. I want to prove to everybody why I am the best. I want to show people my versatile skills, that I can play anywhere. I am just showing colleges what they can have.”

For Desert Ridge (0-1), Taren Morrison led the squad with 96 of the team’s 163 rushing yards.

Photo by Kirt Winter

Desert Ridge’s E.J. McLanahan lays out for a catch, converting to the 1-yard line.

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