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Cardinals rule

Keoshian runs over Faith Baptist for divisional title

Posted: December 5, 2008 10:58 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian School's Collin Keoshian (22) breaks from would-be Faith Baptist tacklers in Friday's 50-28 8-Man Football Championship game at Harry Welch Stadium. Keoshian led the Cardinals to their first division crown, carrying the ball 39 times for 266 yards and five touchdowns.

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Ownership has its privileges.

Because of ownership, Faith Baptist football could call itself the class of Southern California 8-Man football.

With six CIF championships in 12 appearances in the last 24 years, it's hard to argue.

But the Contenders owned something else during that period - Santa Clarita Christian.

The Cardinals could only muster one victory over Faith this decade, even losing to the Contenders this year.

But after SCCS shocked the Contenders 50-28 Friday night at Harry Welch Stadium, the Cardinals now own the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man championship.

And now they have the privilege of breaking that lease with Faith.

Cardinals workhorse Collin Keoshian ran the ball 39 times for 266 yards, scoring five touchdowns.

The Cardinals owned the time-of-possession battle, running the Contenders out of the game.

"No, we weren't supposed to win," said Cardinals head coach Garrick Moss. "But on paper, you can't measure heart. You can talk about talent and height and all that stuff to judge a team, but heart is always the question mark."

After all, the heart is a muscle, and the Cardinals' muscle helped them control the game throughout.

SCCS trailed the No. 1 team in California only once.

Faith quarterback Matt Rasmussen connected on a 73-yard pass to Paul Llorens and, after a two-point conversion, put the Contenders up 8-6.

A big key to the SCCS victory was the Cardinals' third-down conversion rate.

They were 11-of-14 on the game, with Keoshian converting eight of those plays.

But Faith head coach John Rasmussen said that wasn't necessarily the difference.

"All year long, Keoshian and (Steven) Borden were able to do what they did because of the offensive line," Rasmussen said. "You've got to give credit where credit is due. The defensive line and the offensive line won the game."

The offensive line - Russell Gage, Joe Grayem, Micah Dixon, Austin Lillenberg and Brian Schraner - helped the Cardinals dominate the clock.

SCCS ran 68 plays - 66 of them runs.

Faith ran only 39 plays in the game.

Borden ran the ball 19 times for 49 yards, scoring a touchdown.

The Cardinals would have run the ball all 68 times, but were forced to throw twice - the first time, Keoshian was flushed back and completed an 11-yard pass on third-and-4 that led to the first score of the second half.

At the end of the 13-play, 54-yard drive, the Cardinals led 28-8 with 4:57 to play in the third quarter.

Faith's second play of the fourth quarter was the turning point of the game.

With SCCS up 28-14, Contenders quarterback Rasmussen threw downfield to receiver Llorens.

Normally playing outside linebacker but switched to safety for the game, Gage stepped in front of the pass, intercepted it and took it back 36 yards for a touchdown.
"Oh, my gosh. I was hoping so bad to get a pick," Gage said. "I love playing a deep zone coverage, and the ball was right there."

Two plays later, the Cardinals' Grayem sacked Rasmussen in the end zone to put SCCS up 37-14.

The quarterback was harassed throughout.

On the second play of the game, he rushed forward but the ball was knocked out of his hands, with Cardinal Daniel Chaplin recovering.

It would lead to Keoshian's first touchdown - a 6-yard run.

He would scored on runs of 8 and 4 yards to give the Cardinals a 20-8 lead going into halftime.

In the second half, he scored on runs of 19 and 20 yards - his longest jaunts on a busy night.

"My dad went to GNC (supplement store) before the game - loaded me up," Keoshian said of his energy.

The 20-yard run gave SCCS a 50-22 lead.

Faith tacked a score on late on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Nick Wallin to Synjin Hipolito.

Keoshian intercepted the two-point attempt, signalling the end for the Contenders.

The championship is the first title in SCCS's 11-year football history.

The Cardinals had to defeat the state's third- (Avalon), second- (Windward) and first-ranked teams on their way to the crown.


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