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Crown Royal Knights with 2013 Citrus League football championship Phillip Brents | Thu, Nov 07 2013 10:07 PM

The Crawford Colts are clearly having a season to remember after cruising to a 10-0 regular season finish following Thursday’s 20-0 victory against Escondido Charter in a game played at Valley Center High School.

But watch out for the Citrus League champion Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy Royal Knights.

The Royal Knights cemented their second consecutive league title after out-lasting the Foothills Christian Knights by a score of 54-19 in a game played at Olympian High School, also on Thursday.

Calvary finishes regular season play 8-2 following a perfect 5-0 run through league play.

The Royal Knights are seeking a high seed in the upcoming San Diego Section Division V playoffs; they’ll likely receive a seed somehwere behind Crawford.

Calvary finished non-league play with a 3-2 record, defeating Las Vegas Calvary Chapel Christian (16-6 on Aug. 31), Maranatha Christian (22-0 on Sept. 13) and Calvin Christian (28-27 on Sept. 27). Losses were to the San Diego Jewish Academy (21-20 on Sept. 3) and Temecula Rancho Christian (34-0 on Sept. 29).

The Royal Knights kicked off Citrus League play Oct. 11 with a 22-6 victory against Borrego Springs in a game played at Olympian High School, and then went on to defeat Classical Academy by a score of 34-27 in a game played Oct. 19 at Orange Glen High School. Calvary edged Julian, 16-10, Oct. 23 in a game played at Eastlake High School before recording a 62-27 win over crosstown league rival Lutheran Nov. 1 at Olympian High School.

The Royal Knights built a 28-19 halftime lead on Foothills Christian in Thursday’s encounter despite losing two fumbles, one of which was recovered in the end zone for a Knights’ touchdown. A 60-yard kick-off return later led to a touchdown as Foothills kept it close.

But junior running back/linebacker Justin Santa Maria proved to be the Royal Knights’ trump card in the game, rushing for three touchdowns and 180 yards in the first half alone. Santa Maria finished Thursday’s game with four touchdowns and 321 rushing yards.

In eight prior game appearances, he had rushed for 1,236 yards and scored 15 of the team’s 32 touchdowns. He rushed for 305 yards and scored six touchdowns in the previous win over Lutheran.

Quentin Harrison, a sophomore, receiver/defensive back, entered Thursday’s game with 542 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Santa Maria scored Calvary’s opening three touchdowns in the regular season finale, including a three-yard run in the first quarter and scoring runs of 14 and 38 yards in the second quarter as the hosts took a 20-7 lead.

The Knights came back to make it 20-13 but Harrison scored on an eight-yard carry with four five minutes to play before halftime to give Calvary some much needed breathing space.

Santa Maria scored his fourth TD of the game with nine minutes to play in the third quarter to up the Royal Knights’ lead to 32-19. Senior quarterback/defensive tackle Tony Madrid then scored on an eight-yard carry with three minutes to play in the quarter to increase Calvary’s lead to 40-19.

Overall, the hosts finished the game with four second-half touchdowns. Also getting in the act were freshman running back/defensive back Jake Matsumoto on a 12-yard run (48-19) and senior wide receiver/defensive back Louie Pendley on a five-yard run (54-19).

While Santa Maria received the lion’s share of hand-offs in the game, the Royal Knights did have some problems holding onto the ball, especially near the end zone.

Foothills sophomore quarterback Wyatt Basson sat out a few plays early in the first quarter after being tackled, and was holding his left wrist. However, he came back into the game after a few plays.

Calvary Christian competes in 11-man football with one of the lowest student enrollments in the section. Thus, many players on the team also play two-ways.
Defensive leaders on the Royal Knights include Nathan Bellama, Edgar Herrera, Santa Maria and Madrid.

The Colts are good, and are definitely having a watershed season. Crawford entered Thursday’s game having outscored opponents by an average margin of 36 points.

Only Horizon Christian (last in the Coastal League standings), Holtville (second in the Manzanita League standings) and Mountain Empire (third in the Manzanita League standings) have given the Colts a challenge this season. Crawford edged Holtville, 21-14, in a game played Oct. 11 and slipped past Mountain Empire in a league contest played Nov. 1; the Colts topped Horizon, 39-23, in a non-league game on Sept. 13.

Eight of 18 teams will qualify for the Division V playoffs. Other contenders for top seeds include Holtville and Classical Academy, both of which entered the final week of regular season play with 7-2 records. Five teams appeared to be bidding for the four remaining berths to advance to post-season play. They include Vincent Memorial, Julian, Calvin Christian, Army-Navy and Mountain Empire, all with 5-4 records.

Three other teams remain mathematically alive: SDJA (3-3), Palo Verde Valley (4-5) and Escondido Charter (4-5).

The section seeding committee meeting is Saturday. The opening round of the playoffs kicks off Nov. 15.

Calvary Christian captured last season’s Citrus League line-up with a 4-0 league record en route to posting an 8-2 regular season finish. However, the Royal Knights would like to post a better showing in this year’s playoffs after meeting elimination in the opening round by a 70-6 score to visiting La Jolla Country Day.

Peter Kluch contributed to this story.

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Marion Hilgers Says:

Fri, Nov 08 2013 05:19 AM

Great reporting and super picture. It's great to have a newspaper that has such good sports reporting.

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