Venice High’s first round LA City Section 24-7 football playoff victory over Sylmar was expected. Had the third-seeded Gondoliers lost it would have been quite an upset.
But when the second round began Wednesday night only eight teams remained in the Division 1 tournament and all were capable.
Venice’s second round opponent, Narbonne, was co-champion last season, tying San Pedro, 21-21 in the championship game, and was highly regarded this season before losing its final two regular season games.
The defeats downgraded Narbonne to a No. 11 seed, but in the first round Narbonne went on the road and defeated sixth-seeded LA Jordan, 33-0.
Narbonne wants a rematch with Marine League rival Carson, one of the teams it lost to in the regular season. In order to get it the Gauchos would have to defeat Venice.
In 11 games Venice has lost only to nationally prominent Oaks Christian. The Gondoliers are at full strength as all-around star Jonathan McNeal has returned from a knee injury.
When McNeal was out for a month, quarterback Alfonso Medina led the offense and several teammates, including receiver Larry Clark, improved their play.
This Venice season is similar to several others as Coach Angelo Gasca’s team dominated the Western League and won its first playoff game. But no Venice team has ever won the City championship.
Westchester, the Western League’s second place team, got past the first round with a 28-18 win over West Adams, but faced a difficult second round test against top-seeded Crenshaw.