GARDENA, Calif. -- If elite competition truly breeds improvement, USC targets Adoree’ Jackson and Dwight Williams had a golden opportunity to do so Friday night against defending CIF Los Angeles City Section champion Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne.
The Class of 2014 duo from Gardena Serra embraced the challenge, knowing that facing Washington quarterback commit Troy Williams and Cal receiver commit A.J. Richardson would be for the better. Yes, Narbonne emerged with a 22-9 victory, but Jackson and Dwight Williams more than held their own, showing why they’re two of the area’s most coveted 2014 recruits.
Serra limited the dynamic Troy Williams to only 175 passing yards and one touchdown, and held Richardson to only two receptions. If there were positives to draw from the loss, it was that Narbonne’s big-name players were contained. Offensive mistakes, though, turned out to decrease Serra’s chances of upsetting the CIF State bowl-game contender.
“It shows that we can compete with anybody,” Jackson said. “It also shows how much confidence we have in each other, and that we can play. If we play like this every week, we shouldn’t lose any more.”
Dwight Williams, a linebacker who stalked Troy Williams all night, took blame for the loss.
“I feel like if I could have made a few more plays, the game would have gone the other way,” Dwight said. “I’m that type of guy -- everything is my fault. I see a loss on the scoreboard, and I think it’s my fault. If I would have made a few more plays, man, we could have won this.”
Jackson, a cornerback who matched up against Richardson throughout, did the same a few minutes later.
“We had a lot of mental mistakes and didn’t wrap up as a defense,” Jackson said. “We just didn’t make plays. I can’t blame it on anybody else. I want to blame it on myself.”
Practices leading up to the big game -- Serra pegged it as its game of the year -- were fast-paced in anticipation of Troy Williams’ multiple capabilities. Serra coach Scott Altenberg used two scout-team offenses in practices. When one went off the field, the next jumped on. The high-speed preparation paid dividends for the defense.
“We knew they make big plays on offense,” said Jackson, who played on both sides of the ball and wore a pair of Trojans gloves Friday. “What we wanted to do was make them drive. We’ve seen them on film -- a lot of teams didn’t make them drive and just took big plays. We wanted to give them hard yards. It worked out for us, actually.”
Both Jackson and Dwight Williams made it to the Coliseum on Saturday for the Cal-USC game. Dwight Williams said he has established a great relationship with a USC position coach.
“I’ve been talking to Coach (Scottie) Hazelton a lot,” Dwight Williams said. “I talk to him so much that I know all that is going on right now.”
Though Colorado, Oregon State and UCLA have been the only schools to offer scholarships, Dwight Williams is open to any coach that contacts him. He said USC could be close to offering.
“I don’t have any top schools right now, I’m open to anybody,” he said. “But UCLA, being from California, they’re still up there.”
Jackson said his recruitment has slowed down since the season started, but has a “real nice connection” with a number of current Trojans.
“It’s nice to have them around to talk to,” Jackson said.
They might have lost to Narbonne, but Dwight Williams and Jackson learned something valuable.
“I’ve got to work harder and keep getting better and better,” Williams said. “No more losses, definitely.”
Said Jackson: “I expect us to win CIF.”