By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Bragging rights were at stake last Friday afternoon at Norton Field in Santa Monica, where St. Matthew’s met crosstown rival Calvary Christian for the Pacific Basin League’s 8th-grade ‘A’ Division flag football championship.
Fans of both Palisades private schools packed the sidelines to see if St. Matthew’s could avenge its 34-6 loss in September and when it was over, the Falcons celebrated a hardfought 28-12 triumph.
“We’re blessed with talent at quarterback and on the line and our receivers have springs in their legs,” St. Matthew’s coach Reynaldo Macias said. “I always ask ‘Did you touch it?’ We decided to let our guys go up the ladder and get it. This group’s been together since 6th grade. We lost to Calvary Christian in the semifinals two years ago and lost to Windward in the championship game last year, so the boys really wanted to win.”
Quarterback Davis White and wide receiver Max Stern connected on a 15-yard touchdown as well as the ensuing two-point conversion pass to put the Falcons ahead 8-0.
Caleb Polaha answered on the Cougars’ next drive, sprinting 40 yards on a quarterback keeper, but Stern knocked away a halfback option pass on the two-point try.
White and Stern hooked up again for a 14-8 lead at halftime.
“We were missing a lot of our team the last time we played them so we got crushed, but that didn’t phase us,” said White, whose team routed Windward White 42-6 in the quarterfinals, then scored with 20 seconds left to edge Windward Royal 29-26 in the semifinals.
“I met Davis in second grade and he beat me all the time, which made me really mad,” said Stern, who also had two interceptions on defense. “I was really nervous at first, but we had better energy warming up. They came out flat.”
St. Matthew’s extended its lead in the second half on a pair of long scoring throws from White to Parker Turner. Paving the way to victory were Kai Bekins, Spencer Graves, TJ Hastings, Zander Kaplan, Jorge Lazenby, Christopher McCarthy, Wade Neiman, Blake Pecsok, James Rockwell, Logan Sands, Evan Stokdyk, Ben Zytko, Cole Zytko and Aidan Flintoft.
After Aidan Davis returned an interception to the Falcons’ 5-yard line, Calvary Christian receiver Julian Milner made a one-handed grab crossing the goal line to close the scoring with 15 seconds left.
Contributing for Coach Tharen Todd’s top-seeded Cougars were Sean Nguyen, Rafferty Shea, Atlas Wells, Paul Kedeshian, Kade Kelly, Maddox Brien, Finn Johnson and Jensen Bell.
Calvary Christian’s 7th-grade squad beat Windward 18-0 to win the championship and complete a perfect season. The Cougars consisted of Justin Pack, Will Redmon, Enzo Torres, Logan Scott, Coco Rosenzweig, Gage Grimes, Kenny Russo, Ivor Tilford, Micah Polaha and Jacob Lewis.