ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Crenshaw-Dorsey is about community, respect and bragging rights

The schools, which are 2.8 miles apart and are known for producing some of the best players in Los Angeles history, face off Friday at Crenshaw.

Ajene Harris

Crenshaw quarterback Ajene Harris will pose a defensive challenge for longtime rival Dorsey this week. (Patrick T. Fallon / For the Times / October 19, 2012)

On NFL and college football rosters, this is the week for a little trash talking via text messages, tweets and Facebook postings.

"I tell them, 'You went to the wrong school,' and they tell me the same thing," Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Brandon Mebane, a Crenshaw grad, says of running into a Dorsey alumnus. "It's all love and respect."

And a little teasing.

It's Dorsey vs. Crenshaw week, and Friday's 6 p.m. Coliseum League game at Crenshaw is a big deal in the community.

The schools are 2.8 miles apart and have a proud football tradition of not only winning City Section championships but producing some of the best players in Los Angeles history. The two veteran coaches, Dorsey's Paul Knox and Crenshaw's Robert Garrett, are viewed as more than coaches. They've been mentors to their players, and that's why there's so much loyalty.

The fact many of the players grew up attending the same elementary school or middle school and playing with and against one another in youth football adds to the intensity of the games.

"I grew up across the street from where the football field was," Mebane said. "I couldn't play Pop Warner because of my weight. A lot of the rivalry started in middle school. We were sixth-, seventh-, eighth-graders. You see someone, 'I'm going to go to Crenshaw. I'm going to go to Dorsey.' If you played in that game, it's like a playoff game."

On Saturday, Washington played Oregon in a Pac-12 game, and afterward, who doubts that former Crenshaw running back De'Anthony Thomas of Oregon was offering greetings to a couple of former Dorsey players on Washington, Marvin Hall and Jaydon Mickens. And just maybe this week's Crenshaw-Dorsey game got mentioned.

Both schools have been losing players to charter schools and private schools in recent years, but their coaches keep grinding. The two schools have made it through tough nonleague games against mostly Southern Section schools. Dorsey is 3-3; Crenshaw is 2-4.

Last week, with league play beginning, Crenshaw won, 42-0, against Locke. Dorsey won, 39-0, against Rancho Dominguez. Now the real fun begins.

The quarterbacks in the game are going to have lots of influence. Dorsey's Noah Whitney has passed for 1,405 yards and 16 touchdowns. Crenshaw's Ajene Harris is a returning All-City player committed to San Diego State who can run and pass.

Last season, Crenshaw defeated Dorsey in league and in the Division I playoffs. In 2011, Dorsey won the game, 7-6.

Knox expects a few phone calls this week from alumni telling him, "We got to win."

Mebane will be monitoring Twitter for score updates and waiting to see whether he'll have bragging rights for another year when he runs into a Dorsey grad at his next NFL game.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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