Capital Christian came into Friday night’s matchup against Christian Brothers seeking redemption following two consecutive losses.
But for the Cougars, the game meant something more.
The school is mourning the death of Madison Wright, 15, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on Sept. 10. She would’ve been a sophomore this year.
The Cougars played in honor of Wright on Friday night. Many members of the community wore purple shirts and wristbands with “Madison Strong” and “Jesus Loves You” to honor her.
“Madison has been a big part of our journey this year,” Capital Christian head coach Casey Taylor said. “She’s a student that passed away last week and her funeral was (Thursday). It’s been a great inspiration to our campus, school, church and our guys have really rallied around her.
“When we’re feeling tired and we’re feeling ‘I don’t want to practice or do this and that,’ she’s been rallying us to really go. She’s been a really big part of what we’ve been doing this year and she’ll continue to.”
The Cougars (3-2, 1-0 Capital Athletic League) not only snapped the two-game skid but ran through Christian Brothers (3-2, 0-1) 56-17 from the opening kickoff.
Zeke Burnett ran 99 yards for the opening touchdown, and gave the game ball to the Wright family and dedicated the touchdown to Madison.
The sophomore running back led the Cougars’ rushing attack with three more touchdowns on 11 carries for 152 yards, including a 69-yard run to cap the game.
Taylor called Burnett’s performance “outstanding” as the team bounced back from routs by Vista Murieta and Arizona powerhouse Chandler.
“We played some real good teams the last two weeks and it’s good playing real good teams because you hope you can get better by doing that,” Taylor said. “So tonight we really wanted to get off to a hot start.”
Senior quarterback Austin Amador threw touchdowns to Max Rodarte and Mohammed Feika for 173 yards. Junior running back Isaiah Bass ran back a 65-yard punt return for a score to make it 28-3 at the half, and chipped in a 46-yard TD in the fourth.
Taylor said the league win gives his team a chance to get focused heading into Thursday’s game against El Camino, who was crushed by Vista del Lago 61-17.
“Our goal is to win the California championship,” Taylor said. “We won it last year, and we want to defend.”
Burnett echoed the sentiment.
“Know that we’re coming,” he said of the Cougars’ Sac-Joaquin opponents. “We’re coming for that section title. We’ve gotta win.