Cardinals overcome seven turnovers, beat Lancaster Baptist, 40-12; first league title since 2017
In just the third year of the program’s existence since it was restarted, Santa Clarita Christian football has claimed the Heritage League title.
The Cardinals (7-2, 4-0) took down the Lancaster Baptist Eagles (6-3, 3-2), 40-12, despite committing seven turnovers to finish their league campaign undefeated and pick up the program’s first league title since 2017.
“We were ecstatic,” SCCS head coach Austin Fry said. “We know we have playoffs, so we’re setting our sights on that but I think to know where we were two years ago, and to be able to celebrate this game and then this accomplishment, it’s just a testament to the process that we’ve all kind of committed to, not just the players, but the families and the school.”
The two halves had identical score lines, with SCCS leading 20-6 at the half.
The Cardinals racked up two touchdowns from interceptions, one from junior Wyatt Waldron and one from junior Eli Duhm. Cardinals junior Wyatt Waldron scored on a screen pass.
Fry said that most of his team’s offense came from run plays, especially out of Duhm, junior Cayden Rappleye and freshman Mason Rappleye. The Eagles forced four fumbles and grabbed three interceptions, though Fry was proud of the way that his defense picked up the slack and didn’t allow those turnovers to turn into too many points.
“Really, our run game was just firing on all cylinders,” Fry said. “Our pass game was having a tough time. We had a screen go for a big gain, but other than that, it was really just us being able to run the ball and lean on that, and not really just lean on that — that really carried us to the win. And then defensively, our D-line really played well.”
The Cardinals have been dealing with a fair number of injuries, and Fry mentioned senior Westin Rouche and sophomore Caleb Shaffer as two players who stepped up. The latter stands at 6 feet, 4 inches, making him a force at defensive end, while the former was instrumental at nose tackle, according to Fry.
“(Roush has) been playing nose tackle for the past couple weeks and he’s just a disruptive force,” Fry said. “Caleb Schaeffer, he’s the one who took over for Jonathan Boelter when he went out, and he’s just added an interesting and different and maybe even underrated value to the defensive end spot where he’s probably responsible for two or three knockdowns in the pass game. And then who knows what else he’s affecting with the length in terms of deep balls.”
The Cardinals will now wait for the release of the eight-man football playoff brackets from the CIF Southern Section. Fry said that those should be out at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Fry isn’t concerned about being placed in Division 1 or 2, though he thinks that his program’s body of work throughout the season should garner a spot in the top division.
“Obviously, we want to play up, we want to play in Division 1,” Fry said. “And that would just be such a huge place for us, to be like, ‘Hey, we’re here. We’re up here with everybody.’ And so that would be awesome. I think if we get slotted in the D2 playoffs, we want to come out and and just kind of show that we’re a contender in that division. So, I think either way the guys are excited.”