On Friday, August 17 Santa Clarita Christian School’s football team traveled to Oxnard to play against the Santa Clara Saints. At the end of the night, the Cardinals walked off the field with a 28-14 victory.
For many players on this team, especially the seniors, this was more than just the first game of the season. This was a rematch of last seasons second round CIF division 13 matchup and the Saints not only eliminated the Cardinals, but they also handed them their only loss of the season. This victory was significant for the Cardinals. Senior quarterback Blake Kirshner said of the win, “This set the course for the rest of the season as a team.”
Senior linebacker Ethan Frields also spoke on the importance of the win, “The win means a lot to the team, it shows that even though we lost some key players and our biggest players, we can still go out and dominate a team that is clearly bigger than us. To be honest, it was nice to get revenge from last years loss.”
The victory was also significant for newly crowned head coach Mark Bates as this put that all-important first win under his belt. Speaking on the play of his players Bates stated, “I was very pleased with the toughness our kids played with. The hard work and commitment put in by our team showed dividends on Friday night.”
Although the Cardinals lost some key players from last year, they regained a crucial piece in Ethan Schwesinger who has seen limited action due to injuries. “I was super excited to be playing again,” said Schwesinger. He went on to say, “I’ve only been competing with myself in physical therapy…so it was great to have the opportunity to compete against another team. Just to be in that type of atmosphere was cool.”
The first half belonged to the Cardinals as they went into the halftime with a 14-0 lead. Blake Kirshner and Lucas Pettee have not lost a step since last season. In the first quarter, they connected on a 30-yard screen pass to take the 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, Pettee struck again with a 10-yard run to increase their lead to 14-0.
It was in the second half where the Cardinals would face their first test of the season. Early in the third quarter, Kirshner found senior John Keane wide open down the field for a 55-yard touchdown. This built a 21-0 Cardinal lead, but not for long. The Saints offense began to click in the fourth quarter, and they began to mount a comeback. Santa Clara scored back to back touchdowns, a 3-yard run, and a 53-yard pass. The Cardinal lead was cut down to 7.
With less than six minutes left in the game, the Cardinals needed to respond, and they did in a big way. Kirshner hit a streaking Ethan Schwesinger for a 43-yard pass, putting the Cardinals deep in Saint territory. A few plays later Pettee would score his third touchdown on the night giving the Cardinals a 28-14 lead with 2:44 left in the game.
On the Saints ensuing drive, they drove into Cardinal territory and were threatening. The Saints went for a throw into the end zone, but John Keane stepped in front, intercepted the ball, and sealed the win for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals move to 1-0 on the season. Their next game is this coming Saturday, August 25 at 6 p.m. They will travel to El Segundo to take on St. Bernard. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings last season 36-12.
Top Offensive Players
- Blake Kirsher went 13 for 30 with 211 yards, 2 TD passes, and no interceptions
- Lucas Pettee had 137 all purpose yards inlcuding 19 carries for 73 yards with 2 rushing TD’s and 1 receiving TD.
- Kade Kalinske had 4 catches for 39 yards
- John Keane had 1 catch for 55 yards and 1 touchdown
- Wil Jackson, a freshman, had 2 catches for 12 yards
Top Defensive Players
- Carson Schwesinger had 7 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 1 assisted sack, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery
- Lucas Pettee had 5 solo tackles and 6 assisted tackles
- Ethan Frields had 5 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles, and 1 forced fumble
- John Keane had 1 solo tackle, 1 assisted tackle, 1 interception, and deflected a pass
- Josh Boelter had 1 solo tackle and 3 assisted tackles
Special teams note, TJ Evans went 4 for 4 on extra points and averaged 32.2 yards in his 5 punts.
Founded in 1982, SCCS partners with Christian parents of like faith to challenge students’ minds and train their hearts for God through a distinctively Biblical and challenging education. SCCS has a thriving study body of over 400 students, encompassing grades K-12 and boasts a low student-to-teacher ratio, competitive sports for grades K-12, Advanced Placement and dual enrollment classes and full and half day Kindergarten programs. SCCS graduates continue to matriculate into our nation’s top universities such as: Pepperdine, UCLA and USC, Cornell and Berkley to name a few. SCCS is now enrolling for the 2018-19 school year! Space is limited and filling fast! Click to learn more.