In an effort to infuse peace and good will before even hitting the field, or each other, team captains and coaches from two fiercely proud and competitive teams met earlier in the week.
Four team captains from Capital Christian High School and four from Antelope were joined by coaches to talk about football, life and how tasty the eats were at Round Table Pizza.
When the teams met in a nonleague game in September, things got chippy, and heated, and ugly with personal fouls and bad blood.
The goal during the pizza gathering was to talk it out instead of duking it out.
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“We don’t want any ill will or animosity, and we’re two programs that work hard and want to do the right thing,” said Capital Christian coach Casey Taylor, who initiated the meeting with Antelope coach Matt Ray. Said Ray before Friday’s rematch, “It was a good idea. Let’s break bread. It was good for the kids, the coaches, for everyone.”
Top-seeded Capital Christian trailed No. 4 Antelope 6-0 early and then took off, rolling to a 31-12 victory on Friday night in a Sac-Joaquin Division III semifinal in Rosemont.
Someone order up more pizza. This one was still a bit heated, even on the season’s first truly cold night, punctuated by sideways wind and rain.
There were nine personal fouls/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including three that were off-setting. No fists were thrown, and there cheap shots or dog-pile rumbles, but the referees were mindful to call it tight so it didn’t get out of hand, and the fouls mostly were for excessive celebrating, or talking.
D’Marcus Ross and Coope Crick led the Cougars charge, combining for four touchdowns, as they charge into the finals next Saturday at Sacramento State against second-seeded Placer (12-0).
The Cougars (12-0) won three smaller-school section titles since 2009 and are in D-III for the first time. And this is a complete outfit at Capital Christian, never mind the relatively small enrollment numbers of 420 students.
Capital Christian plays terrific offense, defense and special teams. It has strong line play and an experienced coaching staff, headed by Casey Taylor. In his 15 seasons at Del Oro before coming to Capital Christian following the 2016 season, Taylor led the Golden Eagles to nine section title games, winning six.
For all the athletes Taylor coached at Del Oro, he hasn’t had one quite like Ross.
A fourth-year starter, Ross rumbled for a 19-yard touchdown run and returned an interception 30 yards for a score for a 14-6 lead, and the Cougars never looked back. The school’s all-time leading rusher, Ross had 126 yards rushing, giving him 1,972 for the season.
Crick had touchdown strikes of 45 and 74 yards to Max Rodarte and Trey Jones, respectively. The lines were led by anchors Jonathan Boyd, Will Buck and Shane Semeit, and the special teams unit included a blocked punt by Josiah Mahnke and a 40-yard field goal in the wind by Kenyon Bowyer.
Savaughn Bradley caught a 28-yard touchdown from Nathan Lucero early and ran for a 14 yard score late for Antelope (7-5).