Tiny Christian High, enrollment of about 350, is no stranger to football success. Hanging inside the Patriots’ gymnasium are 10 section championship banners. The Patriots seem intent on celebrating an 11th.
Christian closed the regular season Friday night with a 49-28 road win against University City. At 9-1, the Patriots will be the San Diego Section’s No. 1 seed in Division III when the playoffs commence next week.
Not bad for a team picked to finish in the middle of the Eastern League but instead finished a perfect 4-0.
“I know a lot of people slept on us this year,” said running back Alexander Gonzalez.
“Outside opinions?” said quarterback Owen Easley. “To us, it doesn’t matter what other people say.”
Easley spent a lot of time putting the ball in the end zone against the Centurions. He completed 16-of-20 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed 11 times for 53 yards and scored on runs of 1, 1 and 7 yards.
Gonzalez did his part on offense and defense. He accounted for 191 yards from scrimmage (102 receiving, 89 rushing). Defensively, he returned an interception 33 yards for a score late in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots came in averaging 31.6 points a game and the defense often gets overlooked, but the defenders played a pivotal role against UC. They delivered four sacks and Justin Roehl joined Gonzalez in the pick-six celebration, returning an interception 34 yards for a touchdown.
Christian likely was overlooked early because two-year starting quarterback Brad Jeremiah, who threw 64 TD passes, graduated. But not anymore.
“We’re not the fastest team, we’re not the strongest team,” said Christian head coach Matt Oliver. “But the kids play hard, and they buy into our system.”
Norcross is a freelance writer.
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