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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – La Mirada football remains lone area team alive in postseason

November 11, 2021

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter


Five area football teams qualified for the CIF-Southern Section divisional playoffs and after the first round, only La Mirada High remains alive for a potential championship. The Matadores, who have won four in a row, three on the field, will host Pasadena High Friday night at Excelsior Stadium.

La Mirada which trailed 8-0 after the first quarter, 15-13 at the half and 22-13 early in the third quarter, rallied for a 35-29 victory against Golden Valley High last Friday, improved to 7-4 on the season. The winning score came late in the third quarter when sophomore Gregory Leon scored from a yard out to put the Matadores in front 26-22.

Junior quarterback Nehuel Garcia completed 16 passes for 142 yards and a score while senior running back Edward Lafferre gained 157 yards on 23 carries and scored twice for the second place team out of the Suburban League. Lafferre leads the Matadores with 710 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in nine games played. Senior running backs Amel White (49 carries, 308 yards, two touchdowns) and Jacob Black (22 carries, 114 yards, three touchdowns) are also top threats on the ground.

Garcia, who has thrown for over 1,400 yards this season and 13 touchdowns, has top targets in junior wide receiver Xavier Hicks (49 receptions, 653 yards, five touchdowns) and senior wide receiver Aiden Nasser (27 receptions, 327 yards, one touchdown). Hicks caught 12 passes for 128 yards and a score against Golden Valley.

Pasadena is the top-ranked team in the division and brings an 8-2 record into the contest. The Bulldogs knocked off Thousand Oaks High 50-13 last Friday and have reached the 50-point plateau four times and have scored over 40 points two other times. The co-champions of the Pacific League are led by quarterback Kaden Taylor, who has passed for 1,812 yards and 28 touchdowns. His main targets are Melci Fox (31 receptions, 797 yards, nine touchdowns), Jason Sanford (20 receptions, 468 yards, 11 touchdowns), Idrique Carmichael (18 receptions, 351 yards, three touchdowns) and Cameron Mitchell (15 receptions, 257 yards, three touchdowns).

Pasadena is also balanced in running department as it has rushed for 2,114 yards and scored 23 times on the ground. Leading the charge are Taylor (80 carries, 639 yards, eight touchdowns), Ahmed Jolly (93 carries,580 yards, three touchdowns) and Daylon Beasley (44 carries, 445 yards, six touchdowns). On defense, Mikel Wallace has seven quarterback sacks while Jamir Mitchell another four and a half sacks. As a team, the Bulldogs have sacked opposing signal callers 19 and a half times.

The Bulldogs have won six in a row and have not allowed more than 17 points in the last three games. If La Mirada can pull off the upset, it will travel to either Aquinas High or Leuzinger High on Nov. 19 for a semifinal contest.

In other area football action from the first round, Artesia High lost to Rialto High 40-28 on the road in Division 13 action. The Pioneers, who won their only two games in 605 League play to finish in second place, conclude the season at 2-9.

In Division 14, Cerritos High, the champions of the 605 League, hosted Arlington High at Artesia and was edged 22-20 despite touchdown runs of six, one and three by senior running back Connor Defrain. The Dons finished at 5-6 and had the program’s highest win total since 2003 when that team went 6-4.

Valley Christian High, the champions of the Olympic League who were riding a seven-game winning streak, was blown out by Ramona High 42-13 in a Division 8 road encounter. The Defenders wrapped up their campaign at 7-3 and had entered the playoffs scoring at least 34 points in their last six games.


For the first time in school history, Artesia qualified for the divisional championships, which were held on Nov. 1 at the Soule Park golf course in Ojai. While the team did not advance to Southern California Golf Association qualifier, Craig Munsell, Artesia’s head coach of 10 years, was all smiles when his team was one of the 20 qualifiers in Division 3.

“Being an alumni of the class of 1988 and now a teacher/coach at Artesia High School, I am super excited to be part of making school history by qualifying for the CIF championship,” Munsell said. “Honestly, I never thought that we would make it to CIF as a team. We have always had one or two golfers that were competitive, but I have never been able to put together s full team until this year.”

The Lady Pioneers went 5-3 in the regular season thanks in part to sophomore Hyacinth Hernandez and freshman Arwen Hernandez wo came to Artesia with solid golf fundamentals and parental support, according to Munsell.

The rest of the team are juniors Elise Chung, Madison Kim and Neha Neelankavil and freshman Ashly Chung.

Out of Division 1, Cerritos also qualified and competed at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills and while the Lady Dons may not have advanced as a team, Jasmine Koo stole the spotlight. The sophomore shot a 68 to finish in first place at the individual finals at the River Ridge Golf Course-Vineyard Course in Oxnard, which is a par 72 of 5,943 yards. Koo finished one stroke ahead of three other golfers and has advanced to the state regionals, which were held at the Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena on Nov. 11. Also advancing to the state regionals is Sarah Yoo of Whitney High, who shot a 73 to finish in a tie for 21st. The top 28 advance to the state regionals with the state finals to be held at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach on Tuesday.


The area will be represented nicely with runners on Friday and Saturday as six schools have teams advancing to the preliminaries, held at Mt. San Antonio College. In Division 2, the Cerritos boys will run at 10:06 a.m. while the girls run at 11:26. In Division 3, the Gahr High boys will run at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday with senior Natalyn Membreno representing the Gahr girls team at 9:05 a.m. At 7:57, the La Mirada and Norwalk High boys’ teams will get going with the Norwalk girls and the La Mirada girls running at 8:52 a.m. and 9:05 a.m. respectively.

In Division 4, Whitney will run on Friday at 8:54 a.m. (boys) and 9:24 a.m. (girls) while the V.C. boys go at 12:15 p.m. and the V.C. girls at 2:10 p.m. The finals will take place on Nov. 20, also at Mt. San Antonio College.