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SCCS Football: Thacher stands in the way of a return

Cardinals are one step away from championship game

Posted: November 27, 2009 5:25 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Despite an up-and-down regular season, Santa Clarita Christian has made it through the first two rounds of the postseason relatively unscathed.

However the team's semifinal matchup in the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-Man Football playoffs at 7 p.m. at Canyon High tonight should be a big challenge.

On Oct. 17, the last time SCCS (7-4) faced Thacher, the Toads handed SCCS a 48-16 blowout loss at Thacher.

However, the Cardinals were without two of their key offensive threats - Colin Mayhugh was injured in the first quarter and the division's reigning player of the year, Collin Keoshian, missed the entire game with a shoulder injury.

The feats of both have been well-documented, but their impact is so significant it's worth noting - the pair have combined for 1,868 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns.

SCCS will have both Saturday and Thacher head coach Jeff Hooper knows those two can change a game significantly.

"Any time you play them, you have to deal with (Keoshian)," said Hooper, referring to the BYU-bound star for SCCS. "We can only give him one chance per carry, and we need to get them on the ground, which is easy to say but hard to do on the field."

Both teams breezed through their first two postseason contests, Thacher (9-1) winning 72-26 and 78-20 over L.A. Lutheran and Excelsior Education Center, respectively. SCCS beat Southlands Christian 62-0 and handled Hesperia Christian 66-21 in rounds one and two.

Neither coach anticipates any mention of the mercy rule in round three.

Thacher comes in with its own athletic, experienced leader on offense - senior quarterback Austin Krause.

"His athleticism has been key for us," Hooper said. "When he's playing well, we've been able to do a lot of things on offense because of his ability."

Krause is a three-year starter at quarterback for the Toads and also Thacher's leading ball carrier.

He passed for 755 yards and 19 touchdowns against five interceptions. He has also rushed for 793 yards on 92 carries, giving him about 40 more attempts than the Toads' senior starting running back Cole Ryder.

SCCS head coach Garrick Moss said Krause is a worthy counterpunch to the scoring threat Keoshian provides.

"In a way, he definitely runs their offense by calling the plays and running the ball," Moss said. "He's very crucial to their offense. Yeah, I'd say that he's kind of their Keoshian."

As impressive as Krause has been, Ryder's numbers are also eye-opening. Ryder's 941 rushing yards on 56 attempts equates to nearly 16 yards per carry.

Moss said it gives them a balance that can be difficult to defend.

"They definitely run more than they throw," Moss said. "They don't throw a lot, but they can throw enough. We have to respect their passing game and they have some kids, Ryder and Krause especially, who are very talented and have been doing it a while."

The key, Moss said, will be limiting the big play and being able to chew up the clock with big runs, as the team has been able to do in all seven of its wins.

"I think we have to find a way to stop their offense," Moss said. They've got a lot of weapons, they're senior-loaded and they're well-coached, so they run (the offense) very well. That's going to be a challenge, just stepping up and seeing if our defense can play a tough, hard-nosed game.



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