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Can the Cards pull it off?

The Santa Clarita Christian football team will have to beat the squad that has been the monkey on

Posted: December 4, 2008 10:03 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2008 4:55 a.m.
 
Two down, one to go.

Santa Clarita Christian has already knocked out the No. 2, Windward and No. 3-ranked team, Avalon, in the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man football playoffs.

Now the team has its sights set on taking out Heritage League mate and No. 1-ranked perennial powerhouse Faith Baptist in the finals.

SCCS will take on the Contenders tonight at Harry Welch Stadium at 7 p.m.

The Cardinals lost 46-32 to the Contenders on Nov. 1.

After the loss, SCCS (10-2) has rebounded going on to win five straight.

But this rivalry has been one-sided for the past five seasons in favor of Faith Baptist (12-0), which has not lost to the Cardinals since 2003.

“We’re excited to play them again,” said SCCS head coach Garrick Moss. “This time we’ll give a better game. We get a chance to play at home and the guys get excited about playing at home.”

But this matchup will have a lot more at stake — the division title. A win for SCCS will clinch the program’s first ever-division title.

“They’ve won several,” said SCCS head coach Garrick Moss of Faith Baptist. “We’re hungry for our first CIF title and this team is working hard and playing good football.”

Faith Baptist won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005 under head coach John Rasmussen — six titles overall for the program  the first coming in 1984, followed by titles in 1991, 1994 and 2001.

Last season, Faith Baptist fell 36-32 to Joshua Springs in the finals.

Rasmussen attributes much of the Contenders’ success in the past two seasons to the arrival of co-head coach Rob Davidson, who joined the program in 2006.

Faith Baptist has gone 34-2 since Davidson arrived and Rasmussen said he brings more than just a knowledge of the game to the field — he’s an inspiration.

“I knew he was great with kids and a really good coach when I brought him on,” Rasmussen said. “The kids love him. He’s just really helped keep the Faith Baptist family tradition.”

And part of that family tradition is Rasmussen’s son Matt, who is a quarterback for the Contenders.

Matt, a sophomore, shares the duty with junior Nick Wallin.

Wallin has been a factor for the Contenders this season. The 5-foot-8-inch signal-caller caught the game-winning reception for Faith Baptist in last Friday’s 18-14 semifinal win over Thatcher of Ojai.

“He’s done everything for us,” Rasmussen said of Wallin.

Running back Jason Leight and wide receiver Paul Llorens round out the Contenders’ offensive playmakers.

“We’ve prepared real hard,” Moss said. “We know about the run and we know their different playmakers. We have to shut down their run game and beat them on the pass.”

The Cardinals will stick to what has worked for them all season — getting the ball in the hands of running back Collin Keoshian and receiver Steven Borden.

“They are great athletes and we know we can’t stop them, nobody has stopped them all year, but we hope to slow them down,” Rasmussen said.

Both Rasmussen and Moss agree that the most thrilling part of meeting in the finals is the opportunity to represent the Heritage League.

“It’s a great thing for the league having two teams in the CIF championship game,” Moss said.

“This is rare,” Rasmussen added. “We’re excited to be apart of the same league and it’s great because it shows how strong the league is.”

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