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Prep football: Cards’ quest for three ends

Santa Clarita Christian misses out on third straight trip to finals

Posted: November 26, 2010 11:41 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian’s Chris Fechtelkotter, left, gets pulled down as Excelsior Education’s Joe Harrison fumbles the ball on Friday at Canyon High School in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man playoffs.

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There will be no third straight title-game appearance for the Santa Clarita Christian football team.

Despite six touchdowns, three through the air and three on the ground by senior tailback Daniel Green, the Cardinals' back-to-back run as the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man football champions came to an end with a 66-56 semifinal loss to Excelsior Education Center of Victorville Friday night at Canyon High.

The Eagles (7-4), who started their season with a 1-4 record, beat the Cardinals with the same formula they've used throughout their six-game, late-season turnaround - they steamrolled with the running game.

Junior Joe Harrison was a one-man tackle-breaking machine, flinging SCCS defenders off his back throughout the evening on his way to 287 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries.

And he, unfortunately for the Cardinals (10-2), wasn't even the Eagles' most effective runner.

Sophomore Kyle Washington scored another five times on the ground, racking up 256 yards on 21 carries.

As a team, Excelsior gained 598 rushing yards and visited the end zone nine times.

They did it from start to finish, gaining 300 rushing yards in the first half and 298 in the second.

"They're the real deal," said Santa Clarita Christian head coach Garrick Moss. "All of their runners run extremely hard and extremely well. It's also really difficult to stop a team that has that big of an offensive line. Those linemen get off the line very well. We weren't able to do enough to stop them."

The Eagles attempted just three passes, all on the final drive of the half with no timeouts remaining.

The Cardinals were only able to muster stops on two of the Eagles' 11 offensive possessions.

Also hurting SCCS were three turnovers by its offense and a safety on a snap into the end zone.

Otherwise, the Cardinals Green-led offense did its part to keep pace with the Excelsior attack.

Green ran for 155 yards and three scores on 21 carries. He also completed 6-of-12 passes for 170 yards, with two touchdown strikes to Chris Fechtelkotter and another touchdown aerial to Jake Asher.

Luke Asher gained another 57 yards and a score on the ground on seven carries.

"We felt like we had a realistic shot at it," said Moss, whose team reached the semifinals for a fourth consecutive season. "We knew that we could score on offense. We just didn't do enough to win."

The Cardinals were close early in the fourth quarter, trailing 52-48 with 10:22 remaining after a 28-yard touchdown pass from Green to Jake Asher, but back-to-back Washington touchdowns helped the Eagles pull away.

A 75-yard touchdown pass from Green to Fechtelkotter with 20 seconds remaining gave the Cardinals a near-glimmer of hope, but they failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, sealing the loss.

The Eagles will play the winner of today's semifinal between Windward of Los Angeles and Faith Baptist of Canoga Park (the team the Cardinals beat in each of the last two 8-Man championship games) next week for the CIF championship.

After the way the Eagles ran, Moss said he likes the Eagles' chances. So do the Eagles.

"We've always wanted to be here," Washington said. "Now we're there. We'll be ready for them."




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