Crenshaw High is the runaway choice to win the LA City Section football championship this season.
But Venice High, the best team on the Westside in 2009, has adopted the goal of giving the Gondoliers their first City title in school history.
Venice has dominated the Western League in recent seasons and has come close to City championships in the past.
But not even when J.P. Losman was playing quarterback on his way to becoming a first round NFL draft choice and not even when Curtis McNeal was displaying his all-around ability on his way to receiving a USC scholarship did the Gondoliers win a City title.
A year ago Venice lost all five non-league games, then swept five league games to earn a playoff berth.
This season the team started fast, winning its first three games before losing to nationally-ranked Oaks Christian Friday night at Venice, 33-13.
Several players have expressed the goal of bringing a City championship to the campus on Venice Blvd.
Veteran coach Angelo Gasca would like nothing better. But first will come the final non-league game Friday night against San Fernando and five Western League contests, with Fairfax and Hamilton considered the strongest contenders and Westchester off to a surprising 3-2 start.
Linebacker Jonathan McNeal, no relation to Curtis, is the Gondoliers’ star player and best college prospect, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound linebacker who had an 85-yard kickoff return in a thrilling 31-28 victory over Santa Monica.
Senior quarterback Alfonso Medina, running back Aaron Jones, linebacker Ignatius Porchia and place-kicker Conner Gil are outstanding too.
Gil is a soccer player who came out for football this season for the first time. He has a soccer scholarship to Loyola Marymount and is expected to give up football, but Gasca says Gil is the best kicker at Venice in 40 years.
Santa Monica players might agree as Gil calmly booted the 25-yard game winner in the closing seconds two weeks ago at Corsair Field.
Winning the City championship is a lofty goal, especially since Crenshaw lived up to high expectations last Friday by routing previously undefeated Culver City on the road, 48-7.