Coming into the game after defeating the defending Prep League champions Polytechnic last week, the Santa Clarita Christian School football team needed a win to secure at least a share of a first-place finish in the Prep League against Rio Hondo Prep at Oaks Christian High School on Saturday.
The Cardinals took an early lead, but were unable to capture the win, falling 36-21 to the Kares.
The Cardinals (6-3 overall, 1-1 in Prep League) started off the scoring on the night with Blake Kirshner connecting with receiver Kade Kalinske for a 74-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage.
On the Kares’ first drive of the game, it was clear what the game plan was. They were going to run, run, run and when running didn’t work they were going to mix in some play action passes to catch SCCS off guard.
Going to the running game, the Kares (6-2, 2-0) scored on their opening drive with ease as the Cardinals had trouble wrapping up their two running backs Bryant Flores and Alex Esquiaqui.
“They have a solid running game, a very good running game,” said SCCS head coach Mark Bates. “We knew it was going to be a game of styles and whoever could dictate the other team to play their style was probably going to come out on top and that’s what happened.”
Trying to answer with the score at 7-7, Kirshner tried to fit a pass into a window, but was intercepted at the Kares’ 40-yard line.
With ball in hand, Rio Hondo went on to score on their next two possessions to go ahead 21-7 with 9:20 left in the second quarter.
The Cardinals would put together and 11-play, 71-yard touchdown drive capping the drive off with a 11-yard touchdown catch by Ethan Schwesinger in the back of the end zone with just over five minutes to go in the half.
But for every SCCS score, Rio Hondo answered with one of their own and scored from three yards out with 27 seconds until halftime.
At halftime, Rio Hondo led 29-14.
In the second half, Rio Hondo executed a 13-play drive by Rio Hondo that was finished off with a 19-yard touchdown pass.
“That was big for them,” Bates said. “It shortened the game for one, which gave us less possessions and was important for them.”
The Cardinals scored once more in the game after stopping the Kares on the SCCS goal line, taking the ball 99 yards with Lucas Pettee rumbling in from 2-yards out to.
“I liked that we didn’t quit and kept fighting to the end,” Bates said. “We just got behind too early in the game and couldn’t get caught up.”
The Cardinals finished up their regular season against Vasquez at Vasquez at 7 p.m. on Friday.