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Football team faces Mission Prep for the Valley championship

After three straight Valley championship titles, the No. 2 ranked Fresno Christian football team head into their championship match up with the No. 1 ranked Mission Prep Royals, Nov. 16. This game comes prior to a Central Section 8-Man league year in which the Eagles went 10-1 and the Royals went 11-0. The final result featured the Royals coming out on top with a 45-6 victory, Sept. 21.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Quarterback Anthony Lonardo, ’19, runs over a Orcutt Academy defender on his way to the end zone, Nov. 11.

This game included a series of injuries to key players such as Anthony Lonardo, ‘19, Aaron LaCroix, ‘19, and Blake Burdan, ‘20. With the addition of these players, the Eagles look to avenge their only loss of the season and win a 4th straight Valley championship. In order to accomplish this, the Eagles need to defeat their biggest threat of the season.

Sophomore lineman Carson Ochs believes that Mission Prep is coming into this game overconfident after their league win. He believes that the Eagles can outsmart them and win the championship.

“Yes, they might be really good, but they could be coming into the game like they already have the championship in their hand,” Ochs said. “We need to outsmart them on the offensive line and we have been watching game film so we’ll be prepared for what’s coming.”

The two play makers to focus on for Mission Prep include quarterback Mark Rodriguez, ‘21, and running back Brian Kowall, ‘20. Rodriguez ended the regular season with very good stats. He threw 17 touchdown passes and only one interception and finished in the top five in the division in terms of passing yards. Kowall turned out an even better year, by leading the division with 1,817 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, Mission Prep relies on the skills of their star defensive linemen, Connor Borges, ‘20. The biggest task the Fresno Christian offensive line faces will be to prevent Borges from making any big plays.

For the Eagles, they come into the game with two defensive stars of their own. Two defensive backs, LaCroix and Tyler Stotts, ’20, both impacted the team tremendously during the season with a combined total of 13 interceptions. In order to pull off this championship win, both of these ball hawks will need to step up big for the defense.

Burdan comes into the game with confidence in what the campus team can do. He believes that they’ve put in a lot of hard work in their preparation for the game.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Mason Blowers, ’20, stiff arms a defender during the Desert High playoff game, Nov. 2.

“I’m confident; I think we’ll win,” Burdan said. “The coaches put up a good game plan and we’re ready for them. We’ve looked at a lot of game film and analyzed a lot of the game and I think we’re going to hit ‘em hard.”

This championship match up comes after both teams dominate semi-final performances. These games resulted in a 55-14 Mission Prep win over Riverdale Christian and a 53-34 Fresno Christian win over Orcutt Academy.

Kowall led Mission Prep to this win with the assistance of his 200 rushing yards and five touchdowns. For Fresno Christian, their much needed big play came from Tyler Stotts, ‘20. This play ended up being an end of the half pick six to ultimately change the result of the game.

No matter the result, this game will finish the season for both Fresno Christian and Mission Prep. Burdan is proud of the way this team fought hard and gave it their all.

“I’m just proud of the way that we’ve played,” Burdan said. “We’ve played some really tough teams and we’ve gone out and beat them. We’ve fought hard and everything, and the guys have given it their all and now we just have to go out and give it our all one last time.”

This game takes place at Mission Prep on Nov. 16, and starts at 7 p.m.

For more articles read WWII veteran Dr. Fitzalbert Marius encourages students toward service or Boys soccer kicks off under new head coach.

Kyle Clem can be reached via Twitter and email.

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