Without a doubt, Garfield High School has played one of the toughest schedules of any City Section football team, but the Bulldogs will face their biggest challenge yet as they take on top-seeded Narbonne in the Division I quarterfinals Friday night at Narbonne.
Garfield, the eighth seed, is 6-5 and going against an undefeated Narbonne team (11-0) that is ranked second in the state behind Concord De La Salle and No. 1 in Southern California by CalHi Sports. A matchup between the Gauchos and De La Salle in the State Championship game has been anticipated since last season.
It’s been the practice of Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez in recent years to prepare for the Division I playoffs by playing perennially strong City and Southern Section teams before Eastern League play. This year’s nonleague slate consisted of St. Bonaventure, Edison, Dorsey and Venice and it was a struggle for the Bulldogs, who were 0-4 at the start of league play.
However, Garfield has bounced back to win six straight, including a 36-24 win over Taft last Friday in the first round.
But stopping Narbonne will be difficult. The defending City champions are led by highly-touted quarterback Troy Williams, who is being recruited by a large number of Division I college programs, and talented running back Tony Gates and explosive wide receivers A.J. Richardson and Greg Clark.
Garfield counters with All-City running back Lance Fernandez, who missed the first half the season with a knee injury. Fernandez ran for 196 yards and four touchdowns on 29 rushing attempts against Taft.
Quarterback Joshua Mendoza led the Bulldogs through the air by completing seven of 11 passes for 131 yards. Fullback Larry Ravelo contributed 38 yards and a touchdown.
Lincoln (9-2) plays top-seeded South East (10-1) Friday night in South Gate.
The Tigers defeated Bell, 20-7, last Friday behind quarterback Gilbert Soto, who threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 12 of 26 passing. Two-way standout Roger Lemus also had a big night for the winners with 49 rushing yards and a TD, and six tackles, including a sack. Fidel Ortiz and Jose Bautista each had TD receptions.
Second-seeded Eagle Rock (8-3), the Northern League champion, takes on Southern League champion Jefferson (8-3) Friday night at home.
The Eagles defeated Washington, 32-26, in the first round, while Jefferson was a 26-19 winner over View Park.
Salesian opened the playoffs with an impressive 74-7 victory over Capistrano Valley Christian in the Northeast Division.
The fourth-seeded Mustangs, who led 54-0 at halftime, play Bishop (9-2) at home Friday night. Bishop, the High Desert League champion, also rolled in its first round game by defeating Desert Christian, 49-7.
Quarterback Jihad Vercher accounted for four of Salesian’s touchdowns last Friday as the senior threw for two and ran for two. He passed for 132 yards and ran for 124 yards on only four rushing carries.