A visit to the campus of Harvard Westlake is like a visit to Toyland at Christmas. The campus is beautiful. There isn't anything lacking that money can buy. But money can't buy athletes, at least not in high school. Or....Well that's another subject.
The 2011-12 Cavaliers had a lot of the things money can't buy Friday night. From a slow start on a cold, wet night, the Cavaliers exploded brighter than the homecoming fireworks show, 70-21, with 324 total yards, and countless heroes.
Jalen Greene, found his throwing arm, connecting for 150 passing yards and one TD. At least two perfect TD passes were dropped or the numbers would have been even better. Greene gilded his best passing night ever with 95 rushing yards resulting in three rushing TDs.
Anterio Bateman, who has carried the Serra offense on his shoulders over the previous three games was injured early in the game and had to be carried to the club house. Ronnie Vaughn played so well many Serra fans didn't realize that Bateman was gone. He ran up 125 yards and 2 rushing TDs.
The Cavaliers came into the game heavy favorites, but they played possum through the first quarter. Harvard scored first in a dull game of mistakes. Serra managed to tie the score 7-7 on the last play of the first quarter.
The Wolverines opened the second quarter with another good drive. Serra's pass defense was again porous, but the Serra D stiffened, and forced a punt. Serra out organized and got back to even in six plays, including a 20 yard first down run by Vaughn, good pass to Ford and a good run after catch, and a neat run by Greene and Serra took the lead for good. 14-7.
Harvard remained a serious threat. Two or three times, deep passes to very open receivers just missed, but they did miss. And Serra scored again with 1:54 remaining in the half.
Harvard quarterback Chad Kanoff picked the Cavalier secondary apart in a nine-play drive that ended in a touchdown when his fourth down pass squeezed pass two Cavalier defenders and was caught at the one. 21-14.
Jalen Green had his best 19 seconds of the season, two on-the-money passes moved the ball eighty yards to restore Serra's 14-point lead at half. 28-14.
Serra kicked off the Wolverines. They scored in four plays: a perfectly thrown sideline pass to a free receiver. 28-21, after two minutes of the second half. "There is a tide in the affairs of men," as the Bard put it, and Harvard's time had come and gone. From then on it was "shallows and miseries" for the home team.
It took Serra ten seconds to restore its 14-point cushion. Raymond Ford fielded Harvard's kickoff at the 19 and went the distance so fast that the Cavs didn't get a chance to block in the back. 35-21.
The Wolverines again had receivers open, but couldn't connect for various reasons. Serra got the ball back with 7½ minutes remaining in the third quarter. That's when the Cavs took off their kryptonite bracelets and started leaping tall buildings etc. Overcoming a holding penalty, Serra scored again in eight plays to double Harvard's score 32-21 with 4:45 left in what was going to be a long, long third quarter.
On the next series, Serra chased Kanoff into the end zone. He threw the ball away, giving the defense its first, but not its last, score of the game. Serra 44-Harvard Westlake 21 at 4:17.
Harvard kicked the ball out of bounds at the Serra 25. Greene ran 55 yards on the first play from scrimmage for Serra's seventh TD. Dependable Eddie Garcia's point after kick went just wide. Serra 50-Harvard Westlake 21, with 4:06 remaining.
On the second play after Serra's kickoff, the Wolverines fumbled, Serra recovered; and Vaughn scored on the first offensive play. Serra 57 - HW 21.
Serra was unable to squeeze another score into the third quarter. It took seven plays, ending in the first minute of the fourth. Serra 63-21.
Harvard couldn't move the ball, but pinned Serra deep with a magnificent ninety-yard punt and roll. Serra went three and out. Both teams were playing clean uniforms. On Harvard's third play after the punt, Joshua Thomas intercepted a pass over the middle at the Serra 15 and went 85 yards for the final score of the game.
Next week comes the show-down with former sister-school, Chaminade at Serra. The Eagles are 8-1, undefeated in League play and coming off their own easy victory 33-0 vs. Cathedral. Most foreboding, the Eagles beat Notre Dame, Serra's biggest loss of the year. But the Cavaliers who played Notre Dame on Labor Day have come a long way. It should be a nail biter.