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"You can't get any better than 4-0. We have a lot of room to grow and we can improve on every aspect of the game, but the bottom line is that we played four and we won four, so you can't get any better than that."   -- Ron Murphy, head football coach, Grossmont High School


by Christopher Mohr

September 27th, 2010 (El Cajon) - The Foothillers of Grossmont High School faced off at home against Santa Fe Christian in a non-league football game Friday night (9/24) at Lt. Thomas M. Adams Field. Grossmont learned just how determined the Eagles can be after fighting off their last-second comeback bid and holding on for a 23-14 win.


It was a fitting way to celebrate Grossmont's 90th annivesary. at a game attended by many alumni in town for an all-classes reunion. 

Whenever you play Santa Fe Christian School's varsity football team, you better be prepared to play a full 48 minutes. The Eagles play with an intensity and tenacity that few teams in the county can match and will give most teams all they can handle.

Grossmont head football coach Ron Murphy knows all too well what the Eagles can dish out: "They're a well coached team, every year, very disciplined, mentally tough kids that play both ways. I admire them very much."

In 2009, both teams played each other at Santa Fe Christian's home field in Solana Beach. The Eagles won that game by a score of 24-13, leaving returning Foothillers players hoping for some payback in 2010.

Payback would come slowly and in small doses for the Foothillers Friday night. Their first drive looked promising, covering 50 yards in six plays including a 41 yard pass play from Desean Waters to Joey Acosta. However, the drive stalled with the ball going to the Eagles on downs on their 23-yard line.

Grossmont got a huge break when Santa Fe Christian's subsequent drive also stalled on a fourth down play from their own 32-yard line, but the Foothillers advanced no further than the 27-yard line and settled for a 45 yard field goal off the strong leg of Jordan Reece, taking a 3-0 lead in at the end of the first quarter.

The Eagles responded quickly with a drive that only took four plays to cover 80 yards in 1:32. Austin Knoth broke away on a 66 yard run to give Santa Fe Christian a 7-3 lead. If Grossmont could achieve payback in this game, it wasn't going to come easily.

The Foothillers endured more frustration with another drive that stalled and resulted in a field goal attempt by Reece. This time, Reece missed from 43 yards out, but Grossmont's defense limited the Eagles to a three-and-out on their next possession. The resulting punt gave the Foothillers excellent field position at Santa Fe Christian's 47-yard line.

Waters went to the air twice to set up the Foothillers' first touchdown. He connected with Acosta for 34 yards and Dimitri Scott for 11 before Acosta ran the ball in from two yards out. Grossmont regained the lead before halftime, 10-7.

Scott's 31 yard kickoff return helped the Foothillers get off to a much better start in the second half. The return moved the ball to Grossmont's 48-yard line, once again allowing them to start a drive with great field position.

Seven plays and 52 yards later, Grossmont scored its second touchdown of the game when Waters carried the ball in from two yards out. Waters ran four times for 41 yards on the drive, including a huge 33 yard run to set up his scoring play. A bad snap on the point after attempt prevented a successful conversion, but Grossmont led 16-7.

Like the typical villain in a James Bond film, the Eagles just would not go away. Knoth scored on another big run, this time from 29 yards out, and Santa Fe Christian closed to within two points, down only 16-14. The Eagle's offense featured many well-choreographed misdirection plays, which gave them some big plays in the running game.

The Foothillers got a break when the Eagles turned the ball over late in the third quarter. On a third-and-nine play on his own 35-yard line, Eagles' quarterback Connor Moore was the victim of a bad snap. The ball went all the way back to the 23-yard line and was recovered by Brennan Darling. Four plays later, Waters ran the ball in from two yards out to extend the Grossmont lead to 23-14. With 11:56 left in the fourth quarter, there was still plenty of time for Santa Fe Christian to come back.

The Eagles had one problem: they could not seem to get over the turnover bug. Jon Green recovered a fumble for Grossmont to end one Eagles' drive. The next turnover would effectively end the game. That's when Austin Wagner picked off a pass from Moore in the end zone with 14.2 seconds left in the game. The Eagles had started the drive with only 2:16 left on their own 25-yard line, but moved quickly down the field.

The most impressive play on that drive was a trick play. Moore lateralled the ball to wideout Kyle Doan, who threw the ball downfield to Louie Dedonates for a 38 yard gain. The Eagles advanced as far as the Grossmont seven-yard line, but Wagner's interception closed out the game.


If Wagner had not made the pick, the Eagles still would have needed to score again. With 14.2 seconds left and no timeouts, such a comeback was highly improbable, but probablities go out the window when playing the Eagles.

Grossmont improves to 4-0 with the win. The next week is a bye week, so the Foothillers don't play again until Friday, October 8, when they visit Monte Vista.

Waters felt a sense of payback with the victory: "It feels great actually, it's just payback. We practiced all week, all hard. We have a young line, they stepped it up for us in the pass game this week."

Coach Murphy also shared his thoughts on the win: "You can't get any better than 4-0. We have a lot of room to grow and we can improve on every aspect of the game, but the bottom line is that we played four and we won four, so you can't get any better than that."

Santa Fe Christian's record evens out at 2-2; their next game is Saturday afternoon (10/2) at home against La Jolla High School (0-4). Their head coach, Nick Ruscetta, felt that turnovers were a major factor in the outcome: "In football, there's no mystery, it's all about handling the football, and the turnovers, they were devastating."



Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer in the San Diego area and is an avid Chargers, Padres and Detroit Red Wings fan.



Scoring Summary


Santa Fe Christian 0 7 7 0 - 14
Grossmont 3 7 6 7 - 23


First Quarter
  G - FG Reece 45

Second Quarter
  SFC - Knoth 66 run (Kirwan kick)
  G - Acosta 2 run (Reece kick)

Third Quarter
  G - Waters 1 run (run failed)
  SFC - Knoth 29 run (Kirwan kick)

Fourth Quarter
  G - Waters 7 run (Reece kick)

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