The combination of four rushing Venice High School touchdowns by Ken Ashley and strong defensive pressure was too much for host Westchester High School in a 51-12 football blowout Friday, November 5th, as the Gondoliers (6-2, 4-0) clinched the Western League title for the third-straight year.
“We’ve been getting close to playing this kind of game, and we felt we could put one together and we did,” Venice coach Angelo Gasca said. “It’s a huge win because it’s our third-straight league championship.
“We’re proud of that and we worked hard for that.”
After opening the season with two defeats to Carson and Loyola, the Gondos have cruised to a six-game victory streak.
Venice, which has only one league game remaining against Hamilton, Friday, November 12th, has proven its reign over the league for the past three seasons with an undefeated league record.
Westchester (3-6, 2-2) set its pre-season sights on challenging Venice for the league throne, but a string of injuries got in the way and the Comets will have to try again next year.
“We have to give credit to Venice,” Westchester coach David Williams said. “They have a superior offense and we worked hard at adjusting to their scheme, but they have a design that put us in a compromising position.”
The Comets were put in a tough position early at their Homecoming game, as Venice jumped to a 31-0 halftime lead, courtesy of Ashley, who rushed for 188 yards on 11 carries and was a scoring machine with three touchdowns in the first half.
The Venice defense was trouble for the Comets all night long, starting with the first big play of the game when linebacker Victor Zeledon blocked a Comet punt and set up his team’s first score.
Ashley, who leads the league in rushing with over 1,200 yards, started his engine with a 20-yard run. He finished the drive by busting through the wall of the Westchester defense for a one-yard touchdown run with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
The Venice defense kept up the pressure with a safety in Westchester’s first drive of the second quarter, putting the Gondos ahead 9-0.
Ashley then scored on a four-yard run and a two-point conversion pass by quarterback Robert Ambers, who finished seven-of-13 for 104 yards passing, put Venice ahead 17-0.
The Gondos added another touchdown after Ashley charged down the field for a 32-yard run.
Westchester found difficulty executing its offensive drives in the first half, including an interception by quarterback Duron Sylvester that was grabbed by Venice’s Jonas Mouton.
Mouton made another big play for Venice on offense, scoring on a one-yard touchdown, which gave the Gondos a significant lead by halftime.
“We just came out and got a win and now we can swing it to the playoffs,” Mouton said. “We worked hard. We wanted to make sure we went ahead and won the league.”
Venice’s defense did not let up in the second half and caused trouble for Westchester immediately when Sylvester was intercepted by Edward Newton, who returned the football for a 30-yard touchdown.
Two consecutive drives by Westchester ended in fumbles that were recovered by Venice, with the second fumble resulting in another touchdown by Mouton on a 31-yard run for a 44-0 giant lead at 4:27 in the third quarter.
Westchester had more struggles when Jeffery Ausbon was intercepted by Venice’s Chris Woodard to deny a scoring effort in the end zone.
Ashley punished Westchester even more when he blew past the defense for his fourth touchdown of the night on a long 65-yard run that put the Gondos in another world with a 51-0 lead.
“We’re league champs,” Ashley said. “We have one more league game in the way and we can handle it. This victory shows our opponents we can play.”
Westchester finally found success on offense after a six-minute drive in the fourth quarter that was led by Sylvester, who finished nine-of-17 for 76 yards passing.
Running back Ronnell Faniel gave the Comets their first score after an 11-yard run with 4:25 left in the game.
Running back Gregory Ray, who finished with 16 carries for 102 yards rushing, added another late touchdown for Westchester on a 25-yard run up the side of the field.
“Our offense had trouble running the ball and we’ve had injuries all along,” said Williams, who referred to nine players with injuries. “We have to try to establish a work ethic and work harder in the off-season.”
With only one league game remaining against Hamilton, Western League champ Venice will move on to the playoffs, where the team expects its real season to begin.
“We need a high seed in the top four and I think we deserve it,” Gasca said. “If we get it, then we’ll have a chance to play two home games.”
In other football games:
Santa Monica High School freshman Edmund Woods came up big for the team by running for two touchdowns to help carry the host Vikings to a 21-18 Ocean League win over Beverly Hills Friday, November 5th.
Santa Monica (6-3, 3-1) climbed to second place behind Culver City in the overall league standings with the victory against Beverly Hills (2-7, 1-3), and has an undefeated home record at Santa Monica College this season.
The Vikings took a 14-7 lead by halftime after Woods, who rushed for 194 yards, stepped in to score on a 49-yard touchdown run.
Beverly Hills added a field goal to narrow the game to 14-10, but Woods put Santa Monica further ahead with a 28-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The Vikings have one league game remaining in the regular season at home against Hawthorne High at 7 p.m. Friday, November 12th.
St. Monica High School trailed 16-10 at halftime, but the running performances of Gilbert Ramirez and Vincent Valdez helped lead the Mariners to a 31-22 non-league victory over visiting St. Genevieve Friday, November 5th.
The Mariners (3-6, 0-3) picked up their third win of the year, but the team is still looking for its first Camino Real League win this season.
St. Monica made the game’s first score after Valdez, who had 19 carries for 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns, ran for a one-yard touchdown.
Alejandro Padilla added a field goal for the Mariners in the second quarter, but St. Genevieve (2-7, 1-2) took over the lead when quarterback Michael Sierras completed a 70-yard touchdown pass.
Ramirez, who had 25 carries for 163 yards rushing, scored two more running touchdowns for the Mariners in the second half to secure the victory for St. Monica.
The Mariners will play their last remaining league game at St. Anthony High at 7 p.m. Friday, November 12th.
St. Bernard High School made a late touchdown, but the visiting Vikings struggled against Junipero Serra High School for the entire game and were easily defeated 55-7 in a Del Rey League game Friday, November 5th.
The Vikings (0-9, 0-4) have found difficult battles all season long and the team faced yet another tough challenge against Serra (4-5, 2-2).
St. Bernard fell behind by two touchdowns early in the first quarter when Serra quarterback Brandon Charles, who finished 12-of-14 for 223 yards passing, completed a 50-yard touchdown pass.
The Vikings were unable to make a presence on the scoreboard until only one minute remained in the game, when junior Marcus Mitchell made a ten-yard touchdown reception from sophomore quarterback Jeremy Laney.
St. Bernard will play its last game at home against the league’s top team, Crespi Carmelite High School, at 7 p.m. Friday, November, 12th.