Granada Hills wins City Section Division I championship behind Dijon Stanley

Not since 1987 had Granada Hills won a City Section football championship. And the Highlanders have never had a teenager who runs as fast as senior Dijon Stanley, the 400-meter City champion.

Each time Stanley has his hands on the football, he can take the breath away of fans and opponents alike. His first carry in the City Section Division I championship game Saturday at Valley College resulted in a 39-yard touchdown run. Then came touchdown runs of 41, 90 and 12 yards. By halftime, he had 293 yards rushing.

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Palisades had no answer for Stanley, who finished with 367 yards rushing and five touchdowns in helping the Highlanders (11-2) end their championship drought with a 44-7 victory.

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Granada Hills coach Bucky Brooks, an NFL analyst on TV and radio, didn't have much time to celebrate. He had to take a redeye flight to Florida. He's the sideline reporter for Jacksonville broadcasts. A former NFL player, Brooks has helped develop Stanley as a football player. Yet he has to explain as coach at the alma mater of John Elway why the Highlanders haven't completed a single pass this season.

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"We have to do what works for the kids," Brooks said.

Stanley has committed to Utah. Stanley is used as a quarterback and wing back in the double-wing offensive formation. The Highlanders advance to next week's state bowl playoffs and learn their opponent when regional matchups are released Sunday.

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Granada Hills' defense also distinguished itself with strong play. Sean Lopez and Oliver Taylor each recorded sacks and Orion Norcon returned an interception 72 yards to the 10-yard line.

"We practice every day at 5:30 in the morning," Stanley said. "A lot of people can't do that."

The Highlanders lost in the first round of the playoffs last season, then started practicing a week later and the hard work paid off.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.