Saturday, July 13, 2024

Birmingham football approaches perfection with City Open Division win over Garfield

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VAN NUYS — Birmingham football coach Jim Rose strolled along the sideline at LA Valley College wearing shorts and a T-shirt, can of Coke in hand, even though the weather was dropping further into the 50s by the minute.

He looked comfortably at home on Saturday evening, and so did his team. Wrapping up their third straight City Section Open Division championship was almost routine.

“We didn’t think the outcome was going to be this easy,” Rose said. “The first half, we played kind of perfect football.”

No. 7-seeded Birmingham beat No. 4-seeded Garfield, 49-13, for the City Section Open Division title on Saturday to secure the program’s fifth overall City Section title and third straight.

The Patriots (9-4) have been chasing perfection this season, going after what they consider a “perfect” game. Rose has set that expectation at Birmingham, and pursuing it has led the program to great heights.

“It just pushed us to be better,” Morgan said. “He wants us to hit a certain standard, and we haven’t hit a perfect game yet. We have to do that.”

The Patriots did most of their work on the ground, with Nalim Morgan rushing for four touchdowns in the game. His first came a minute into the contest and was followed by a rushing touchdown from Ronnell Hewitt.

Morgan joined the team after moving to the area from Las Vegas ahead of this season. But he had no trouble fitting into the Birmingham mold and had a major role on Saturday night when Garfield (10-2) was double-teaming Peyton Waters, who typically is a workhorse for the Patriots.

“His character is great,” Rose said of Morgan. “He’s a great teammate. In his first year here, he’s just one of the guys. We welcome anybody to the program like that and he is family.”

Kingston Tisdell pitched the ball to Morgan for a touchdown with 1:30 to go in the opening quarter before the defense stepped in to force Garfield to three incomplete passes – one of which included a pass deflection from Bo Tonga.

Morgan chipped in two more touchdowns in the second quarter for a 35-0 lead at the half as Birmingham settled in, can of Coke and all.

Rose had some ice to go with his soda by the end of the game in the form of water cooler showers on two different occasions. Garfield scored twice, but Birmingham was already far ahead and tacked on two more touchdowns for good measure.

The Patriots had already started celebrating with a minute left in the game and afterward, tossed ice from the coolers in the air like kids seeing fresh snow. Birmingham might not have reached perfection yet, but they’re definitely having fun.

“I thought we had a perfect half. So now we’ve gotta play two perfect halves,” Rose said. “But that’s what we strive for. I mean, you probably never get it, but maybe next week we can get three quarters of perfection.”

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