SANTA MONICA - In a rematch between teams that met earlier this season, the East Los Angeles College football team will face Santa Monica College in the American Championship Bowl at 1 p.m. Saturday at Santa Monica College.
The game is a matchup between the American Division's Mountain Conference champion Huskies, who are 7-3, and the 8-2 Corsairs, who captured the Pacific Conference title. Santa Monica is ranked 15th in the state's Southern California Region poll, while ELAC is 16th.
The teams have a history of playing close games down to the wire. Santa Monica outlasted the Huskies, 26-20, in two overtimes to win a Sept. 10 nonconference game at East L.A. Santa Monica also defeated ELAC, 6-3, in 2010.
The loss to Santa Monica earlier this season dropped the Huskies to 0-2, but they overcame their slow start to win seven of eight games, including a perfect (5-0) run in the Mountain Conference. The title is ELAC's first since it captured the Southern California Conference in 1974, and fourth in college history.
Coach Lynn Cain was one of the star's on the 1974 team, which went on to win the Potato Bowl and the designation of state champion that came with it. Cain was named the state's Player of the Year before transferring to USC, where he played on the Trojans' 1978 national championship team. He went on to play professionally for the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams.
The Huskies take a six-game winning streak into their first postseason appearance since playing in the CHiPs for Kids Bowl in 2000, and their third overall. The winning streak is the longest since 1974.
ELAC is led by quarterback Aaron Cantu, a standout freshman from Schurr High School, who's been the starting quarterback since the season's fifth game. Cantu, who's played in every game, has passed for 2,269 yards and 22 touchdowns, with just five
He's completed a state-leading 68 percent of his pass attempts and his pass efficiency rating of 163.7 is tops in Southern California.
The emergence of freshman running back Preston Oliver has been another key for the Huskies. The Marshall High product has rushed for 776 yards in nine games. He averages 6.5 yards per carry and 86.2 yards per game.
Marquel Booker has 303 rushing yards, including a 98-yard touchdown run, and Justin Forte has 272 yards. Louis Oneal has added 192 yards.
Wide receiver Carlos Arredondo, who also graduated from Schurr and played last year at Cerritos College, has a state-leading 67 receptions for 797 yards and six touchdowns.
Luther Walker has caught 41 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns. Chris Clark has 31 receptions for 614 yards and a team-leading 11 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Huskies are led by tackle Chris Floyd, end Guillermo Duran, linebackers Hector Cazales and Joel Green, cornerback Nasir Moore and safety Tyrone Moore.