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High School

Ring On The Line For The Teacher And The Pupil

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Westlake High School

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(Rahshaun Haylock/CBS) — 
 
It started with breakfast Saturday morning.  Similar to the way the game week started for Bill Redell and Jim Benkert when their teams faced off for the first time earlier this season. 
Redell is the only coach Oaks Christian has ever known, while Benkert is the all-time winningest head coach at Westlake.  In his 22nd season as the head Warrior, Benkert is looking for CIF titlle number four for his tenure at Westlake. 
 
The teacher and the pupil.  Benkert is one of 15 coaches to come from the Redell coaching tree.  Redell, once again, concedes his team will be the underdog when they take the home field Friday night. 
His Lions fell to Westlake 31-12 in the fourth game of the season, causing the Lions to fall to 2-2 on the season prompting the question, what’s going on with Oaks? 
Combine that with the loss of starting quarterback Trevor Gretzky (shoulder) and it seemed the rigors of their first season in the Marmonte League were going to take its toll on the Lions, whose starters were used to resting by halftime as they beat up Tri-Valley competition in previous years. 
 
But the Lions responeded valiantly, winners of nine in a row, Oaks is back in a CIF final for the 8th consecutive year.  While the 2-2 start was a valley, there have been peaks scattered throughout the season for Redell’s bunch.  Of course there was the amazing, come from behind win against St. Bonaventure in the Marmonte League opener.  The 33-32 win over the Seraphs was as good a character win as you’ll find –at any level.  On the road, with a backup quarterback, and beating one of the most potent, football factories in all of Southern California. 
 
There was the one-point squeker over Moorpark, and last week was, perhaps one of the most impressive wins on the season, a 42-33 semifinal win over (Valencia) Valencia.  Oaks held Valencia’s Steven Manfro to 116 yards on the ground and one touchdown.  Manfro entered the game averaging 203 yards on the ground and 12 yards per carry.  It was a statement game for the Lions, proving they are capable of beating the big schools in big games. 
 
But its on the offensive side of the ball that was the big question once Gretzky went down.  Richie Harrington has been fantastic filling in.  The senior has thrown for over 2,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and is 9-1 as a starter.  He’s also smart.  Harrington is putting the ball into the hands of his playmakers, wide receivers, Blair Holliday (Duke) and junior Jordan Payton (USC).  The dynamic duo caught all of Harrington’s five touchdown passes a week ago. 
 
One thing Oaks has to Friday night is move the ball more effectively against the Westlake defense, something Redell is concerned about because his team was unable to in the first meeting.  The first meeting was also the first start for Harrington.  “Win, lose or draw its not the end of the world, but I think we have a good chance,” says Redell.  All of Westlake will be there to see it.
(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)
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