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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Gahr’s Montgomery reaches pair of milestones as Gladiators roll past Paramount

October 24, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

One could agree that anyone in attendance at Dr. Hanford Rants Stadium for last Friday night’s Gahr High football game against Paramount High did not go home disappointed. As part of Gahr’s 32-6 victory, it was homecoming night, it was senior night and the Gladiators moved into sole possession of second place in the Mid-Cities League.

But the highlight of the night was senior running back Kalen Montgomery, who reached the 1,000-yard plateau for the season and rushed for a career-high 209 yards on 20 carries while scoring twice. The win improved Gahr’s overall mark to 6-3 and 2-1 in league with one game remaining in the regular season.

“I have to give it all to my linemen,” said Montgomery. “They’ve stuck through the thick and thin no matter what happens. No matter how bad we do on one play, we always come back and get it again. So, I have to give it all to my linemen. They really made me get this performance.”

“It’s funny because he really wasn’t sharp,” said Gahr head coach Greg Marshall. “Early on, he wasn’t hitting the holes, and we were like, ‘what are you doing’. But then he got going later. I don’t know if it was senior day or homecoming. He wasn’t his normal [self]. He’s a hard worker. He really is a freight train; he just plows along.”

After both teams did nothing on their opening possessions, Gahr ended an 11-play, 69-yard drive that lasted 5:33 when junior kicker Noah Hernandez booted a 27-yard field goal. Then on the ensuing kickoff, senior defensive back Gabriel Mariscal-Isleib recovered a fumble and Montgomery began the next drive with a 24-yard run to conclude the first quarter. Six plays later, he scored from four yards out to put him at 967 yards on the season. 

The only other score of the first half came with 2:17 left before intermission when junior Markell Slaughter scampered 32 yards, then added a two-point conversion run for an 18-0 lead. Not only were Montgomery and Slaughter doing their thing on the ground in the first half, but the defense was also equally dominant, limiting the Pirates to 39 yards on 20 plays in the first 24 minutes.

In fact, the defensive leader was junior linebacker Ja’shon Wallace, who had three and half tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Paramount did not have an offensive play of more than 10 yards until the fourth quarter when the Pirates went on their touchdown drive. This was the second straight game Gahr had allowed less than nine points and the fourth time it had yielded 12 points or fewer.

“I didn’t think it was going to go that way,” said Marshall. “But then when I came out, I was like, ‘oh, I think we’re going to dominate this thing’, because they couldn’t block us.

“We have four or five linebackers who all look the same and whoever is playing the best, stays,” said Marshall. “That’s why [Wallace] started playing well.”

After a three and out to open the second half, Montgomery’s 55-yard run led to Slaughter scoring from four yards out 90 seconds in the stanza. The final Gahr score of the night came early in the fourth quarter when Montgomery had runs of three and six yards before a 57-yard touchdown run, making it 32-0. His previous career-high was 193 yards against Santa Ana Valley High on Sept. 15.

“My mindset is to go for the best, shoot for the stars and land on the moon,” said Montgomery. “I always think I’m getting three touchdowns, 200 yards and what happens, happens. But I’m always coming in with that mindset of me being great.”

Besides Montgomery, Slaughter had a solid game, rushing 14 times for 92 yards. Senior quarterback Frank Williams completed four passes for 21 yards and on defense, senior linebacker Ethan Whiteman had four tackles while junior linebacker Isaiah Portillo added three tackles.

The win snapped a 10-game losing skid to the Pirates after Gahr had won five straight in the series. The Gladiators will end the regular season at Lynwood High on Friday, an opponent they have defeated seven straight seasons and 13 of the last 15 and would need to beat the Knights to retain second place all by themselves. Lynwood enters the contest at 5-4 overall, 1-2 in league and the last thing Marshall needs is a loss and a Paramount win over last place Firebaugh High, which would create a three-way tie for second place. Last season, Gahr was on the short end of a three-way tie with Bellflower High and Norwalk High for the league title and is looking to get back to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 2019.

“Second place is critical because you know how well we do with at-large bids,” said Marshall. “I didn’t think we could lose two in a row, like maybe beat Paramount and lose to Lynwood and go to a coin flip. We still have work to do. We don’t want to go to a coin flip. That’s not in our best interest; it never has.”

The Knights fell to league champion Bellflower 16-10 last Friday and have been a solid defensive team all season, yielding 123 points in the nine games with a season-high 25 given up to Orange Glen High on Sept. 8. Lynwood lost to Whittier Christian High in last season’s CIF-SS Division 14 championship game.

“We just have to stay focused on our goal,” said Marshall. “We’ve been talking about going to the playoffs and you don’t want to go to a coin flip. We don’t want CIF to make the choice. We want to make our own choice, and I think they got that as their mindset.”

“There’s been a lot of tough losses,” said Montgomery. “We were expecting to get a league championship this year. But we still got that win against Cerritos to get that milk jug back. That really motivated us, and we had to come through and get this win against Paramount to really stick it to their face and make sure we get that [automatic] playoff spot.”

In other football action,

John Glenn High (6-3, 1-1 in the 605 League) @ Artesia High (5-4, 1-1)-This game was played on Oct. 26. See Cerritos High @ Artesia game story.

Prediction: Glenn 31, Artesia 24

Cerritos (4-5, 2-0) @ Pioneer High (2-7, 0-2)-This game was played on Oct. 26. See Cerritos @ Artesia game story.

Prediction: Cerritos 35, Pioneer 10

Gahr (6-3, 2-1 in the Mid-Cities League) @ Lynwood (5-4, 1-2)-See Paramount @ Gahr game story.

Prediction: Gahr 38, Lynwood 17

La Mirada High (3-6, 2-2 in the Gateway League) @ Downey High (7-2, 3-1)-If La Mirada wants any shot of third place in league and pick up style points along the way in hopes of getting an at-large berth in the playoffs, then it would need to pick up an upset win against the second place Vikings. The Matadores were trounced by league champion Warren High 40-6 last Friday as sophomore Jordan Lauago caught an 87-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Santino Garcia for their lone score. The last time La Mirada was held to single digits was its season opener against Cypress High, a 28-0 defeat. 

Downey poses as much as a problem as Warren did and has amassed over 3,800 yards on offense, led by quarterback Oscar Rios. He’s been double trouble for opponents as he has thrown for 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for another 596 yards and seven more scores. He has thrown at least one pass to 11 different players with Dante Sams the leading target (22 receptions, 432 yards, three touchdowns). If that’s bad enough, the Vikings defense has 18 sacks from a dozen different players.

Prediction: Downey 35, La Mirada 14

Norwalk (3-6, 0-4 in the Gateway League) @ Mayfair High 6-3, 2-2)-Norwalk lost a back and forth battle at Dominguez High last Friday in a 32-30 affair. There were four lead changes, three coming in the second half. Junior running back Ezra Mueller scored twice and senior running back Caleb Mitchell and senior quarterback Rylee Sosa each added a touchdown as the Lancers had a 22-20 halftime lead. The regular season finale figures to be another challenge for Norwalk, which has lost seven consecutive games to the Monsoons. The last time the Suburban League rivals met, which was in 2021, Mayfair posted a 48-7 win.

The Monsoons were dominated by Downey 49-14 last Friday and through the first eight games, quarterback Jeremiah Calvin has passed for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns opposite two interceptions. Mayfair was once on a four-game winning streak and wins in five of six games and has scored eight more points than given up.

Prediction: Mayfair 35, Norwalk 21

Village Christian High (6-3, 2-2 in the Ironwood League) @ Valley Christian High (3-6, 2-2)-Third place in the league and an automatic place in the playoffs is on the line as Valley Christian hopes to win two games in a row for the second time this season. The Defenders routed Big Bear High 40-13 last Saturday up in the mountains. It was a season-high in points scored for a team that has been blanked three times and held to a touchdown each in two other games. 

Village Christian, which defeated Heritage Christian High 30-14 last Friday, has scored over 300 points through nine games. The Crusaders shutout Valley Christian 23-0 last season and feature sophomore quarterback Chase Everett, who needs two more yards for 2,200 on the season. He has thrown 30 touchdowns, but also a dozen interceptions. Village Christian isn’t much of a rushing team as Zavontae Flournoy-Trice leads the team with 298 yards. Yet, the Crusaders have gotten 1,047 yards on the ground from 16 different players.

Prediction: Village Christian 31, Valley Christian 14

Last week’s predictions: 5-1

Season to date: 44-13


Artesia was swept by third-ranked Wildwood High 25-19, 25-10, 25-18 last Thursday in a Division 7 first round match and ends the season at 11-9 while 605 league champion Cerritos was upset at home by Culver City High 25-18, 26-24, 25-23 last Thursday in a Division 5 first round match. The Dons wrap up the season at 19-5.

In Division 6 action, seventh-ranked Gahr (22-11) swept Coachella Valley High 25-19, 25-17, 25-21 last Saturday in the second round and hosted second-ranked Glendale High this past Wednesday while in the same division, Tarbut V’Torah High knocked off sixth-ranked La Mirada 19-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-17, 16-18 this past Monday as the Matadores end their season at 19-11.

Finally, Valley Christian, which survived a five-set affair at seventh-ranked Paloma Valley High last Thursday in Division 4 action, swept La Serna High this past Monday. The Defenders (17-10) travelled to second-ranked Capistrano Valley Christian High this past Wednesday.


Cerritos senior Jasmine Koo, who has verbally committed to the University of Southern California, shot a 69, or three under par this past Monday at the CIF-SS Central Region Individual Girls Golf Championships at Bear Valley Country Club in Victorville. Koo, who had previously won the 605 League individual title after a score of 130, or 15 under par during the two-day event held at Los Amigos Country Club and Lakewood Country Club, will join her team on Tuesday at the CIF-SS Division 1 team finals at the Los Serranos North Course. Then on Thursday, she will be at the CIF-SS Individual Championship and SCGA Regional State Qualifying Tournament at the Morongo Golf Club on the Tukwet Canyon Champions Course.