Running back Isaiah Rameau of Chatsworth and quarterback Ivan Levant of Fairfax stood side by side Tuesday morning taking a friendly photo at the City Section championship breakfast in Lake Balboa. Of all the City Section championship football games set for this weekend, the contrast in styles between Chatsworth and Fairfax in Saturday's 2 p.m. Division II final at Valley College should be most pronounced.
Rameau has surpassed 2,000 yards rushing. Levant had a 616-yard passing performance in the playoffs and has reached 3,273 yards passing and 42 touchdowns. Each player loves what he does.
"I just like the run," Rameau said. "They pass almost every time."
They were friendly, personable and offered mutual respect. Levant is more than a football player. He's an A student, artist and teenage entrepreneur with his own shoe line through LA Gear and clothing line. He hand-paints sneakers. He hopes to one day run his own company.
Not long after Birmingham's 49-13 win over Garfield in last year's Open Division final, Birmingham coach Jim Rose told Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez, "We'll see you next year."
And sure enough, it will be Birmingham facing Garfield on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Valley College. Garfield has spent a year getting stronger trying to be ready for the rematch.
"Each team has grown a lot," Rose said. "I expect them to be better. I expect us to be better."
Hernandez said he hopes playing two Marine League schools in the playoffs, San Pedro and Gardena, has prepared his team for Birmingham's physical play.
"We have to be as physical as they are," Hernandez said. "They were far more physical. I think these kids should be battle tested in terms of physicality."
Birmingham has a 41-game winning streak against City Section schools. The record is 42 held by Wilson High during the days of Ron Cuccia at quarterback.
Banning goes for title No. 13
Banning has won 12 City Section football titles, and No. 13 could come Friday night when the Pilots face Crenshaw in the 7 p.m. Division I final at Birmingham.
The Pilots have relied on quarterback Robert Guerrero all season. Also a standout pitcher in baseball, the senior has passed for nearly 2,300 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 13 touchdowns.
David Sandy is trying to give L.A. Jordan its first City title since 1979, when the Bulldogs face Washington Prep in the Division III final on Friday at 3 p.m. at Birmingham.
Sandy, a junior, has rushed for 2,578 yards and 35 touchdowns. He has strong ties to Jordan. It's the high school his father, mother, aunts and uncles have attended. The one person who doesn't go to Jordan is twin brother Isaac, who plays for King/Drew.
Washington Prep has overcome the firing of its coach after an 0-4 start to reach the final. He was replaced by basketball coach Jovante King, whose first call was to ask Hall of Fame coach Paul Knox to return to the program. Knox is the offensive coordinator.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.