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Dean Herrington led Alemany to a title game, but Mira Costa was too much

Posted: December 11, 2009 11:39 p.m.
Updated: December 12, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Mira Costa running back Donte Bavis (5) is upended by Alemany's Deron Smith (13) after catching a pass in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division championship at College of the Canyons on Friday.

 
For Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills, it was the biggest game in its football program’s history.

For Warriors head coach Dean Herrington, it was a full-circle moment four seasons in the making.

But playing in its first-ever CIF final, Alemany fell 24-21 thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach’s Alex Norocea with 4:37 left in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division championship game on Friday at Cougar Stadium.

The game was moved to the College of the Canyons due to poor playing conditions at the Warriors’ home field caused by the weather.

It was a welcome change for Herrington, a former offensive coordinator at Hart High and COC.

“It’s great, you know. We decided to play the game here and it brings back a lot of good memories,” he said. “Too bad this brings back the ’94, the only time we lost here. But, I’m proud of the guys. We just didn’t play well enough to win tonight.”

In 1994, Hart lost 36-15 to Antelope Valley in the CIF-SS Division II championship game, also played at COC.

Herrington was the offensive coordinator on that Hart team.

Herrington coached at Hart for 11 seasons and COC for four before taking over the head coaching position at Alemany (10-4) in 2006.

But he wasn’t the only Warriors coach with local ties.

Former Hart defensive coordinator Rick Herrington and former Indians star running back Ted Iacenda also roamed the Alemany sidelines.

“It’s fun. When we were at Hart, it was fun, and you know, here we just have a great time coaching,” said Dean Herrington, who was the Indians’ first-ever All-CIF quarterback in 1981. “It’s just too bad we couldn’t have pulled it out tonight.”

The Warriors opened up the scoring when senior running back Malcolm Marable took the ball in from 2 yards out.

But the Mustangs (12-2) responded on the ensuing drive thanks to a 4-yard score by running back Rico Wright on first-and-goal.

Then it was Alemany’s turn.

The Warriors manufactured a 15-play drive that took seven minutes off the clock and culminated in a 2-yard quarterback sneak by junior Vernon Adams, a Valencia resident. The extra point was no good, giving Alemany a 13-7 lead after the first quarter.

Adams finished 8-of-18 passing for 73 yards, while rushing 12 times for 58 yards.

“We’ve just got a young team,” Adams said, fighting off tears. “I don’t know what to say. I’m just proud of the defense. I’m proud of everybody. Everybody played their heart out. Mira Costa just came out harder.”

In the second quarter, Mustangs quarterback Kyle Demarco gave his team a 14-13 lead on his first of two rushing touchdowns. The first came from 3 yards out, while the second came midway through the third quarter from the 1, giving his team a 21-13 advantage.

Demarco finished 6-of-10 for 119 yards passing and rushed for 44 yards on nine carries.

“I thought they came out real hot with their offense,” said Mira Costa head coach Don Morrow. “I thought we caught up a little bit to the speed of their offense. That was key I think that our defense did that, because at first I thought they were going to score on every drive.”

In the waning moments of the third, Marable took over.

The Oregon State-bound running back took the hand-off up the middle, bounced off would-be tacklers and made another look like he was standing still. Twenty-five yards later, he was in the end zone. Adams then hit wide receiver Chike Mbanefo for the two-point conversion, knotting the score at 21.

“I just saw one guy and I knew one guy couldn’t stop me,” Marable said.

Marable finished with 188 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns.

However, the Warriors could not hold the momentum.

The Mustangs gave running back Morgan Reece the ball six times on the 10-play game-winning drive that set up Norocea field goal.

Reece had 83 yards on 23 carries.

“Our guys did a great job,” Herrington said. “We are not the biggest team in the world. We just made too many mistakes down the stretch. But I’m proud of the guys. We had a great year. These are always tough, but you got to give Mira Costa credit. They are a heck of a team.”

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