SHERMAN OAKS -- There were plenty of doubters two years ago when Alemany left the Mission League to go into the Serra League to join a foursome of schools -- Bishop Amat, Crespi, Loyola and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame -- that are all among the best in Southern California over the last 20 seasons.
Fast forward to Friday night at Notre Dame where Alemany completed its second straight 4-0 season against those four schools with a 21-14 victory over the host Knights.
“Everyone told me that after we finished in last-place for a few years that we’d be sorry we left the Mission League,” said Alemany coach Dean Herrington. “We weren’t as dominant this year as last year and were very fortunate to come out on top in all of them. All of them could have gone the other way and we were behind in three of the four games this season.”
The Warriors, who snagged the No. 1 playoff berth from the Serra League for the CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs, did not trail against Notre Dame. They did have to break a 14-14 tie in the fourth quarter, however, and took the lead on a 1-yard sneak by junior quarterback Devon Dunn with 4:57 left.
The Knights, who tied the score earlier in the fourth quarter when junior quarterback Kelly Hilinski found a wide open Kevin Carrasco for a 68-yard touchdown, tried to answer. They reached the Alemany 17-yard line with 1:04 left on a fourth-down 19-yard completion from Hilinski to J.J. Muno. A sack by Alemany sophomore Deyon Glass pushed Notre Dame back eight yards and then two incompletions forced another fourth down. On that play, Hilinski was sacked again, this time by Glass and Pablo Torres.
With the loss, Notre Dame fell into a three-way tie for third-place in the final Serra League standings with Crespi and Bishop Amat. Since the league gets only two playoff berths into the Pac-5 Division, that forced a coin flip to decide it. Notre Dame lost the flip, which meant that Bishop Amat will go as the third team due to having a 28-14 head-to-head victory over Crespi.
“We had our chances, but didn’t make enough plays into the end zone,”
Said Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney before the coin flip was held: “Every game we lost this year (the Knights end at 6-4 after going 2-8 in 2010) was a close loss. Some of the wins were close, too, but we were in every game.”
In addition to scoring the game-winning touchdown, Dunn competed 24 of 39 passes for 386 yards and two scores. Both of his touchdowns came on flat passes to junior Steven Mitchell, one of the quickest players in the state.
Mitchell’s scoring plays were from 54 and 35 yards out. He ended with eight catches for 156 yards.
Notre Dame’s other score came in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Sam Robinson. He had to play most of the game as the No. 1 running back when junior Khalfani Muhammad left in the second quarter because of a hip pointer.
Robinson had 27 carries for 100 yards.