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Small-school Christian beats big boys

12/07/2013, 10:45pm PST
By Steve Brand, Special to the U-T

Champion Patriots moved up two divisions this season under new playoff format.

Christian, with an enrollment of 380, savors its San Diego Section Division III title after postseason wins over large public schools Morse, Hilltop and San Marcos in Saturday’s championship game.

the small-enrollment school moving up two divisions or the large school dropping down a pair — was answered emphatically Saturday night at Mesa College.

Christian scored the game’s first 19 points and came up big on defense, picking off four passes and gobbling up two fumbles to handle San Marcos 19-7 to capture the San Diego Section Division III title.

Now comes the wait.

Christian has appealed the section’s determination that it be considered for the state Division II playoffs, the Patriots citing a state rule that says a Division III champion will be considered for the SoCal Regional Division IV playoffs provided it has an enrollment of less than 500.

Christian has 380 students but enough determination to buck the odds against a school seven times its size. That division decision will be made Monday in the courtroom.

On the field, the Patriots were clear winners.

Paris Miller shredded the San Marcos defense for 217 yards on 28 carries, including a 12-yard touchdown. But it was the defense that sealed the victory for the 12-1 Patriots.

“We knew if we could run on them, we’d win,” said Miller, who praised the defense. “Our defense is amazing. We wrap up, make our plays and make our tackles. As a team together we can do anything and our defense played a big role in the game today.”

San Marcos quarterback Will Freed had tossed just two interceptions all season, but the Patriots picked off three in the first half alone and each one was vital.

After Kai Arvan intercepted Freed on San Marcos’ first series, Christian moved the ball to the Knights’ 16-yard line where QB Michael Carrillo found Arvan for the game’s first score.

Sebastian Swift, who dominated San Marcos (9-5) defensively, picked off Freed three plays later and returned the ball 45 yards for another touchdown.

After Miller ran through three tackles from 12 yards out for still another TD with 4:17 to play in the half, San Marcos finally came alive offensively, marching to the Christian 24. But once again the Patriots defense came up with the big play as Zane Coffman snagged the third interception to keep the score 19-0.

Swift finished with 10 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a sack.

“I picked it and I’m not the fastest guy — these guys have some fast people — so I’m thinking they might catch me, but I just ran with my heart,” said the 6-0, 205-pound senior.

One of the keys was the Patriots holding receiver Isiah Hennie to three receptions for 7 yards and only the short run for the lone score. The three grabs give him 101 on the season.

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