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The Eagles Have Landed – Into History PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Friday, 27 December 2013 21:35

It would be fun to have an actual working time machine, and be able now to travel 20 years in the future when the 2013 Chaminade Eagles are gathering for a reunion. The bodies may change – some starting to lose their hair, others may be getting a paunch – and the accomplishments will range in various directions. But the memories of this football team’s accomplishment in 2013 will be indelibly ingrained in their memories, and those who watched them play.

The Eagles (14-2) wrapped up their bestever season in dominant fashion with a 41-9 blasting of Enterprise High of Redding, CA, in the CIF state bowl Division II game at the StubHub Center in Carson on Dec. 21.

It’s a win that forever seals this team in school history as legendary, the first Chaminade team to win a Southern Section (Western Division) and state championship, a team that all future teams will be measured against. There may be teams that accomplish championships with better or perfect records. But no other Chaminade team will be its first football champion.

“We played a tough schedule,” said Coach Ed Croson, in calm reflection amidst the noisy shrieks and howls in the stadium’s storage areas where a makeshift photo studio was set up so players could take pictures with the state championship trophy.

"We scrimmaged Narbonne, a City finalist. We played Venice who went to the [City] semifinals. We played Hart twice. We played Valencia, the Foothill League champ. We played Oaks Christian. Beat Notre Dame for the fourth year in a row. We played Serra twice. If nothing else, we played in big games. We were used to big games.” And under Croson, the Eagles have gotten used to winning. He came here from Birmingham, having won four Los Angeles City Section titles.

The Eagles went 7-5 his first year in 2009, and have gone 47-9 the past four years. And now they have the hardware they have waited so long to put in the school trophy case. The players, naturally, were ecstatic by their triumph. But they could also appreciate the journey as well as the final destination. “I don’t think any of us saw this,” said running back and cornerback Donovan Lee, a senior, who has verbally committed to Colorado University. “Looking at our potential, with all the replacements we had – young guys coming up from JV, a bunch of transfers – early on we weren’t playing to our full potential. We started to peak as the season went on. And the rest is history; to beat Serra for a [section] championship, and to win state, is a great way to end a high school career.”

“I knew we were a good team,” added lineman Ty Moya, a senior. “But [this summer] I didn’t know how far we’d get because we were a young team at the time. But everyone stepped up, everyone did their job. And if you do your job you can accomplish anything, and that’s what we did. “We accomplished what we wanted, which was to win our last game and win state.” The Hornets (13-1), who won the Northern Section championship, also wanted to win the state game if for no other reason than they traveled farther than any other team to Carson – almost 556 miles one way from their Redding campus to the StubHub Center. They were the first team from the Northern Section to play for a state football title (two other teams, Hamilton of Hamilton City in 2008 and Sutter in 2012, lost in regional contests). They brought a 2,000-yard running back in Isaiah Matthews, a junior, and a beefy offensive line averaging nearly 290-pounds capable of controlling the gameclock. That plan worked, at least statistically; Matthews ran for 182 of Enterprise’s 221 rushing yards, and the Hornets possessed the ball for 30:48 to 17:12 for Chaminade.

But Enterprise could not handle the speed or sophistication of the Eagles passing offense. Quarterback Brad Kaaya, a senior, worked the Hornets secondary for 276 yards and two touchdowns. It was apparent the Chaminade coaches decided the passing game could dominate because Kaaya was throwing from the very first play of the game, and was a very efficient 17-of-23, with no interceptions. “Initially we wanted to see what they would do defensively because we had no clue,” said Kaaya, who has verbally committed to the University of Miami. “[The coaches felt] most of the offenses they see up there were run options; they only saw one spread team all year. We wanted to see if they would come out man-to-man or zone. We tried some plays (in the first possession) to see what they would do, then after that we tried to go get them.” And Hornet’s quarterback Bobby Luken had a horrible night passing with only 77 yards, and throwing four interceptions – three to Lee. “He just took over the game,” Croson said.

“Everybody talks about (Serra’s) Adoreé Jackson; I think you’ve got to talk about Donovan Lee, too.” Both teams exchanged field goals in the first quarter. But the rest of the game belonged to Chaminade. Kaaya opened the quarter with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Brayden Lenius, the 6-5 sophomore wide receiver from Canada who emerged as an impact player during the postseason. “That [pass] got me into a groove,” Laaya said. Chaminade’s defense then took center stage. Defensive end Joel Loth made the Eagle’s first interception, picking off a poor Luken screen pass at the Chaminade 47 and returned in four yards. Kaaya struck immediately flinging a 38-yard completion to Lenius, who ended up at the Enterprise 11. Two plays later, Lee scampered around right end for a nine-yard touchdown run, and Chaminade’s lead swelled to 17-3. It was the Hornet’s next turnover that really left the fans buzzing.

Luken, from his own 16, took three steps a quickly launched a pass. But his receiver never turned around to see where the ball was and was headed downfield. Lee, playing cornerback, gathered in the gift interception and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles, now up 24-3, were flying. “I was saying to him, ‘don’t throw it, don’t throw it.’ And he did it,” Lee said. “I’m not sure their receiver looked back for the ball…it would have been disrespectful for me not to score on that play.” The onslaught continued in the third quarter. On the Hornets first possession, Luken threw his fourth consecutive interception, and third in a row to Lee.

Chaminade eventually converted the turnover into Ben Krientenberg’s second field goal, this time from 30 yards away. When the Eagles got the ball again they drove 53 yards in 11 plays, with Kieran Yancy scoring on a three-yard run. That made the score 34-3, and it wasn’t hard to imagine the Enterprise buses starting to warm up in the parking lot for the nine-hour trip back up north. Chaminade added one more score in the fourth quarter, a 30-yard touchdown pass from Kaaya to Brandyn Lee (no relation). Enterprise got its lone touchdown on a seven-yard pass from Chase Turner, who had replaced the ineffective Luken, to Justin Abney with 10 seconds left in the game. A twopoint pass attempt was no good. Kinda like Enterprise’s whole night.

“We did not fear them,” said linebacker Rick Gamboa, a senior also committed to Colorado, who had five solo tackles including a sack. “The biggest thing early in the game was tackling. Their running back (Matthews) is big and physical. Early on we weren’t wrapping him up as much. After the first quarter we said to ourselves ‘wrap up and hold on,’ and if it took all 11 guys to bring him down, then all 11 guys make the tackle, not just one.”

The Eagles didn’t have to fear the Hornets; they owned them.

“They were a lot better than we thought they would be,” Croson said. “We have a lot of respect for their program and for their people. Their offensive line was as well coached as any offensive line we saw this year. We think they really do a good job with their kids.

“But from what we saw [on film], there were some places they didn’t match up with us. We wanted to make them run; they have a lot of guys who play both ways. That was the plan, which is our plan every week – try and run teams out of gas and try to keep scoring. We use 20 guys on offense and 20 guys on defense, so we have guys coming in and out all the time.”

Lee, Moya, Kaaya, Gamboa, and the rest of team can start to figure out Chaminade’s place in Valley and state prep football history at the team banquet on Jan. 9. They don’t have to draw a conclusion that night. The stories and memories won’t need to be embellished or mythologized. The truth about Chaminade’s success will be more than enough.

“[The banquet] is going to be incredible,” Gamboa said. Being part of this senior class, winning the first [section] title and also the state, it’s something special and something I’ll remember the rest of my life.” The Eagles Have Landed – Into History Chaminade Routs Enterprise In CIF State Division II Bowl Game To Complete Team’s Best

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 21:42

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