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Crenshaw hopes for different outcome in rematch with Merced

LOS ANGELES -- Kemonte Bateman feels this time it will be different.

The Los Angeles Crenshaw star receiver and his teammates didn't know much about Merced when they made the long bus ride to Don Odishoo Field at this time last year.

Merced defeated Crenshaw 27-21.

"All we knew about was their receiver, their quarterback and their safety," Bateman said.

"Now we know them like the back of our hand. We know all their plays and our second string guys have been running them for us in practice."

Tonight the two teams will square off again. This time it's Merced making the trip down south.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

In other action tonight Dos Palos hosts Kingsburg and Chowchilla opens its season at home against Coalinga.

Merced beat a very athletic Crenshaw team last season. They'll face many of the same skill players again.

Bateman already has verbally committed to UCLA and fellow receiver Clint Floyd -- who caught two touchdowns against Merced last year -- has received offers from Arizona State and Washington.

Running back Curtis Price led Crenshaw in rushing last year with 930 yards.

"Our goal is to just play solid football," Merced coach Rob Scheidt said. "Not just against (Bateman), but against their other receivers and their running back.

"If you get guys out of the box, they're going to run the football."

Merced also has no shortage of stars after finishing 12-2 last season.

Receiver Jarrett Sparks leads a talented offense.

The senior has five scholarship offers himself, after hauling in 42 passes for 862 yards and eight touchdowns.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Kenny Cooper gives senior quarterback Brandon Garcia another big target from his tight end spot.

Running backs Stephon Mathis and Darrion Gray have the speed to break big plays out of the backfield.

The players may feel a step faster on the new Field Turf that was installed at Crenshaw's recently renovated stadium.

Tonight will be the first game played at the rebuilt facility.

"We've played on a similar surface at Cal for the last three years and we've played at Sonora," Scheidt said. "I don't think it will be much different for our guys."

Scheidt does know his team will be facing an opponent looking for payback.

Just ask Bateman.

"We wanted to play them again right after we played them last year," Bateman said. "We've been looking forward to this.

"We've been practicing hard. We've been staying out late just for them."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at">