Hitting the Big Time

Quaint it wasn't, but this SoCal showdown got fans stoked
October 01, 2006

TRUE, THEY areCalifornia powerhouses, but Ryan Keys had modest expectations when he put two$7 tickets for last Friday's clash between St. Bonaventure (Ventura) and OaksChristian (Westlake Village) on eBay. Instead, on the Tuesday before the game,his tickets sold for $73.50. "I couldn't believe it--that much for a highschool game?" said Keys, 22. "That's pretty crazy."

Not when youconsider that Fox Sports Net was televising the matchup nationally and that anoffshore gambling site (thegreek.com) had posted a betting line on thegame.

Why all thehoopla? Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure came into the matchup riding winningstreaks of 33 games and 27 games, respectively. Oaks Christian has nine seniorswho will likely play Division I-A football next season, led by the nation's topplayer, quarterback Jimmy Clausen. St. Bonaventure was ranked No. 1 in the areaby a local newspaper.

Last Friday fansstarted lining up outside Ventura's Larrabee Stadium at about 2 p.m. for a 7o'clock start. USC fan Al Pacheco, 70, took an Amtrak train 86 miles from SanPedro to see Oaks Christian's future Trojans, running back Marc Tyler andsafety Marshall Jones. "I had to see if they're as good as they're supposedto be," Pacheco said.

They were. OaksChristian racked up 600 yards of offense in a 59--13 shellacking of St.Bonaventure that put to rest talk that the Lions had built its sterlingreputation by beating up on small-school opponents. Tyler ran for 271 yards andfive touchdowns; Clausen was 16 of 26 for 227 yards and two scores.

"There's nodoubt they're the real deal," said former UCLA and UTEP running back TylerEbell, a Ventura High grad who was on the St. Bonaventure sideline.

Ryan Keys thoughthe had a real deal as well, but he should've sold his tickets later in theweek. Last Friday morning a pair went on eBay for $132.50.





THOSE WON'T beMTV cameras focused on the Hoover High football team on Friday night. Thoughthe Buccaneer's 2005 season is still being chronicled on MTV's popularTwo-a-Days, this year's top-ranked squad (SI, Aug. 28) will share the spotlightwith the John Curtis Patriots in a game being televised nationally by ESPNU.Hoover (5--0) may be the greater of two equals--QB Ross Wilson leads an offensethat averages 39.8 points per game. But the Bucs should not take Curtislightly. The Pats (3-0) have won 20 state titles under coach J.T. Curtis, theson of the school's founder and the second-winningest coach in U.S. high schoolhistory, with a 431-46-6 record. The Curtis offense is led by senior JoeMcKnight (right), a 5'11", 185-pound running back--wide receiver--defensiveback who Coach Curtis says is a ballcarrier in the class of former Pats ReggieDupard, Chris Howard and Jonathan Wells, all of whom played in the NFL. TheCurtis defense, meanwhile, has not surrendered more than one touchdown in agame this season.

TWO PHOTOSPETER READ MILLERSMASHING Led by Clausen (inset), Oaks Christian crushed St. Bonaventure. PHOTOGREG PEARSON THE TIMES/AP