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SCCS football: It all starts with defense

SANTA CLARITA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL (6-4) at HESPERIA CHRISTIAN (5-5) 7 p.m.

Posted: November 19, 2009 9:19 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2009 4:30 a.m.

SCCS running back Colin Mayhugh (5) carries the ball against Faith Baptist on Oct. 24. The Cardinals play against Hesperia Christian tonight at 7 p.m. on the road in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man football playoffs.

 
Their grass gives a slight disadvantage over the turf.

It’ll be a whole lot colder.

And there’s the 100-mile drive.

Santa Clarita Christian football head coach Garrick Moss wasn’t making excuses, but he knows it won’t be the same game when the Cardinals travel to Hesperia Christian for a 7 p.m. matchup tonight in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man Football playoffs.

SCCS (6-4) notched a 66-42 win over the Patriots (5-5) on Oct. 3 at Canyon High.

This time, the winner will advance to the semifinals.

The win-or-go-home pressure isn’t the only thing that will be different for SCCS, the division’s defending champs.

Moss said he’s going to need more from his defense.

“We feel that it’s a different game traveling there and playing at night at their place,” Moss said. “They’re one of the more physical teams we play.”

The Cardinals’ offense has been productive every time the team has played at full strength, which it is currently, according to Moss.

The latest proof was a 62-0 first-round rout of Southland Christian at Cougar Stadium last Saturday.

However the Patriots have little bit more balance than SCCS’s last opponent.

As a result, Moss said defense is likely to be the difference-maker in Hesperia.

The Hesperia Christian backfield is anchored by Jordan Dorsey, a dynamic power-runner averaging 116 yards per game on the ground through 10 contests. He is also the team’s third-leading receiver. He notched four rushing scores the last time the teams met.

Yet, the wideout spot might be the biggest matchup problem for the Cardinals.

“We don’t have the height at the defensive-back position, but we feel that we can match up physically and be aggressive with them,” Moss said.

Hesperia Christian’s leading receiver Josh Ford is a 6-footer, and three others are over 6 feet 5 inches tall.

Moss said setting the tone early will play a big role.

On Oct. 3, SCCS raced out to a 22-0 lead in the first quarter, which the Patriots could not recover from, aided by six rushing scores from all-purpose back Collin Keoshian.  

“We feel that we’re a lot better defensively since week four,” Moss said. “Not turning the ball over will be key. Causing some problems on defense will be key. We just need to keep up momentum.”

Slowing that momentum will have to be the primary objective of the Patriots.

Hesperia Christian head coach G. Dean Dorsey said what worries him most is the Cardinals’ resiliency on offense.

“They’re the type of team that can take a broken play and turn it into something,” Dorsey said.

It may start with Keoshian, but Dorsey said SCCS is no one-man show.

“(Keoshian) is the type of player that takes more than one guy to tackle. ...  A kid of his caliber, of course what you want to do is shut him down, but he has a backup that’s an outstanding runner with amazing speed.”

Keoshian leads the team with 98 carries for 1,024 yards and 21 touchdowns. His backup, so to speak, Colin Mayhugh, has just three fewer carries for 824 yards and two touchdowns. The two often play interchangeably as Keoshian frequently moves to the quarterback and receiver spots.

What also makes both teams dangerous is their deceiving records.

Every team on Hesperia Christian’s schedule qualified for the postseason. Three of those teams are still in the playoffs, including SCCS, and the other two (Joshua Springs and Excelsior Education Center) were on the Patriots’ schedule twice.

The Cardinals were missing a few key players, namely Keoshian, in three of their losses.

Moss said it may come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.

“If we turn the ball over and let them make the big play, then it’s going to be a long night,” Moss said.

“If we can play smart, aggressive defense and if our offense keeps working. ...”

It might make for a much more enjoyable return trip for the Cardinals.


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