Oaks Christian-St. Bonaventure, Fight Night News

From Jackie Robinson to Jimmy Clausen, southern California's high school football programs have long produced top talent. Now, the sport is getting its national close-up: this fall, Alabama's Hoover High team turned an unprecedented pop-culture trick, simultaneously appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated and as the subject of an MTV reality show. Buzz Bissinger's classic book about Texas gridiron, "Friday Night Lights," is an NBC primetime show. Web sites like calhisports.rivals.com profile the top prospects and chronicle their college recruiting adventures; ESPN and FSN Prime Ticket pay for the rights to broadcast key games.

On Friday, Prime Ticket FSN West will broadcast the long-awaited game between Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure. It's probably the biggest match-up in the state since Long Beach Poly took on De La Salle (from Concord in northern Cal) for the nation's number-one ranking. (You can read about that game and those programs in Don Wallace's One Great Game, now available in paperback from Atria Press.) Friday night's game will help determine whether Clausen and Oaks Christian's 33-game winning streak is the real deal, or whether the Lions have padded their record with weak opponents.

Interestingly, in the pre-season polls, Sports Illustrated ranked Oaks Christian third in the nation; the Times ranked the Lions sixth in the region (with St. Bonaventure tied for second).

* * *
My buddy Bruce Bebb, with whom I collaborated at the L.A. Weekly several lifetimes ago, is back in the ring. Earlier this year, Bruce lost his longtime column when the publication he wrote for shuttered. But when Mike Marley (who survived a stint working for Don King) recently started a new boxing web-site, fightnightnews.com, Bruce found another outlet. He'll file from all across SoCal -- and surely keep Oscar De La Hoya on his toes.

September 21, 2006 7:46 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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