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Football: Servite faces ultimate test in De La Salle

By Steve Galluzzo

9:13 PM EDT, October 5, 2013

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With the grueling Trinity League gauntlet looming, Anaheim Servite faces the ultimate challenge tonight in its final tuneup -- an intersectional showdown against defending CIF state bowl Open Division champion and national powerhouse Concord De La Salle.

Both teams are in a transition phase after the departure of longtime successful coaches. Servite is off to a solid 3-1 start in its first season under A.J. Gass, a star linebacker for the Friars in the early 1990s. Gass has taken over for Troy Thomas, who led the team to seven league titles, two Pac-5 Division titles and a state bowl championship before leaving in March to take the head coaching job at Encino Crespi. 

Servite is ranked seventh in the Southland by The Times and ninth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports. It lost its opener to Bishop Gorman, the top-ranked team in Nevada, but rebounded the next week to upset reigning Pac-5 champion Long Beach Poly.

De La Salle (5-0) is still ranked #1 in the state despite the departure of Bob Ladoceur, who stepped down after posting an astounding 399-25-3 record in 34 years as head coach. He is still on staff as an assistant under Justin Alumbaugh and the Spartans seemingly haven't missed a beat, winning their first five games by an average of 24 points.

Servite hopes to fare better than it did the last time the teams met -- a 48-8 loss in the rain in the state Open Division bowl game at Home Depot Center in 2010. 

Kickoff is about 30 minutes away at Santa Ana Stadium so log back on for live scoring updates.