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Can it be done again?

SCCS defeated Faith in last year’s title game

Posted: December 4, 2009 10:34 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2009 4:30 a.m.
 

The Santa Clarita Christian football team has a certain respect for Faith Baptist.

Cardinals head coach Garrick Moss mentions Faith as one of a few measuring sticks for the quality of an 8-man program.

As SCCS rematches Faith Baptist for the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man Football Championship at Faith Baptist in Canoga Park at 1 p.m., by now, it’s also clear the respect is mutual.

The Contenders (10-2) have been perennially just that, making it to 14 of the last 25 championship games. The defending-champion Cardinals are making their third trip.

Fourth-year Faith Baptist co-head coach Larry Rasmussen, who has been involved with Faith Baptist’s program for 27 years, praised the accomplishments of Moss’ program in kind.

Both know firsthand what the others’ team is capable of.

Last Friday, the Cardinals (8-4) ripped off six second-half touchdowns in a 62-22 win over The Thacher School in last week’s semifinal at Canyon High in front of a cadre of blue-jacketed Contenders, who appeared en masse to watch their eventual opponent,

Reigning CIF-SS Div. I 8-Man Player of the Year Collin Keoshian helped account for seven of the Cardinals’ touchdowns against Thacher, and Colin Mayhugh added 203 yards on the ground in a game that was only close for the first half.

“They’re scouting us like we’re scouting them. We make a point to watch all of the teams in our league play,” Rasmussen said. “It shows a lot for the Heritage League that two of its teams are in the championship.”

Recent history could give cause for Contender concern – SCCS won the last two matchups, a 50-28 win at Canyon High on Dec. 5, 2008 in last year’s championship, and 40-34 in their regular-season meeting on Nov. 7.

But it shouldn’t.

SCCS has improved ball distribution. Faith Baptist will have both of its quarterbacks who play well interchangeably.

Both coaches are expecting a slightly different matchup for the third time in as many games.

The main casts remain relatively unchanged.

Yet statistically, the Cardinals are somewhat more balanced than last year’s group, which graduated the entire offensive line from a team that ran 66 out of 68 plays for more than 360 yards in last year’s title match.

Moss said he knows he will probably have to be able to utilize the pass and the run to beat the Contenders. He added it will takebalance on both sides of the ball to be able to win it on the road.

“We’re going to have to mix things up like we have been all year with (Keoshian and Mayhugh). They both have great arms, and we’ve got some good receivers,” Moss said. “We’ve just never been a passing program — we just run the ball, run the ball and pass when you need to. But we’re willing to do whatever it takes so they can’t key in on our run.”

Both Mayhugh and Keoshian tossed touchdowns in last week’s win.

But the Cardinals will also have to avoid the first-half pitfalls that set them back against Faith the last time,

“We need to play a very good game and not make any mistakes,” Moss said. “We can’t have a bunch of penalties.”

SCCS (8-4) earned the Heritage League title outright by handing Faith Baptist (10-2) its only league loss.

The Cardinals struggled offensively with unforced errors and trailed 28-24 at halftime.

SCCS reverted to its running game and was able to get several key stops from its defense in the second half.

The Contenders were at a slight disadvantage, though, without junior quarterback Matt Rasmussen. He’s been one-half of a two-headed threat under center this year. He was limited to playing only wide receiver after suffering a concussion the previous week.

Quarterback Nick Wallin gives the Contenders a more athletic quarterback threat.

Matt Rasmussen is relied on more in traditional passing situations, something Faith was definitely facing when the Cardinals stopped a fourth-and-36 attempt to seal the come-from-behind win Nov. 7.

However in the semifinal, the Contenders were able to overcome a 10-point deficit against Windward to win its matchup 34-28 at Windward with help from a deep Matt Rasmussen pass for a score.

A healthy Matt Rasmussen and Faith with a full arsenal at its disposal could lead to another shootout, if Keoshian and Mayhugh can continue to churn the Cardinals’ touchdown machine.

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