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Right to play in finals

SCCS reach semifinals for third time ever

Posted: November 26, 2008 10:26 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2008 4:59 a.m.

In a recent game against Thatcher, Santa Clarita Christian running back Collin Keoshian carries the football.

 

Santa Clarita Christian's 8-man football team was supposed to lose to Avalon on Nov. 22.

Instead, the Cardinals, by winning 28-21, showed that they are a legitimate title contender.

And in only the third time in the school's history, the Cardinals advanced to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man Football Playoffs.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, SCCS (9-2) will go on the road to face No. 2 ranked Windward of Los Angeles.

Last season, Windward lost to Cate of Carpinteria in the second round of playoffs but got redemption this season in a 50-0 shutout on Friday.

Despite the Wildcats' ranking and a perfect 11-0 record, SCCS has the upper hand in the two ball clubs' series.

The Cardinals have won three out of four meetings including a 49-0 win in 2006.

But SCCS head coach Garrick Moss said that this year's Wildcats' team will be a more staunch and unyielding competitor.

"In the past we did well against them," Moss said. "But they are a lot different this year. They have some really talented guys with a lot of size and speed."

Behind a formidable defense, the Wildcats have posted seven shutouts and have held opponents to 3.5 points per game.

"Our offense will have to figure out how to get big plays over their defense," Moss said.

Offensively, behind quarterback James Ondattaja, running back Blayr Jimmerson and wide receiver A.J. Frank, Windward has scored 48 points or more against its competitors all season.

"They have a lot of different weapons as well and we have to keep them from making big plays," Moss said.

Windward's seventh-year head coach Steve Napier has led the team to its first ever semifinal matchup and said the Cardinals will be the toughest competition the team has faced so far.

"They are a good football team and have a good coaching staff," Napier said. "The kids are coached up well and play hard."

Napier's game plan is simple - stop No. 22. No. 22, Collin Keoshian, the Cardinals' preeminent running back/linebacker, has been a dominant force for SCCS.

The two-time All-CIF player has 164 carries for 1,528 yards and has scored 23 touchdowns this season.

"We've watched a lot of film and tape to figure out how to stop that," Napier said referring to Keoshian's run game. "He will run you over if he has the chance. If we can stop him we feel a little better."

But SCCS has a big challenge.

"We're excited to have the opportunity to have the semifinal at home," Napier said.

SCCS is averaging 51.4 points per game and has produced two 50-plus point shutouts this season.

"We're very proud of the fact we're here," Moss said. "We want to try and figure out how we can take this game. It's another game where we come in as the underdogs but we're excited about our role. We're hungry for it."

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