East County Sports

Knights win second 8-man championship

The champs visited Ronald McDonald House earlier in the week.






By Nick Pellegrino
Special to East County Sports

PACIFIC BEACH (11-11-2018) – What does a football team do after getting “destroyed” the previous season? You return, work hard, and capture a championship.

That was the story of the Foothills Christian Knights, which went from 2016 CIF titlist to a non-playoff participant, then returning to become the 2018 CIF San Diego Section champions in 8-man football.

Knights quarterback Tony Mroz tossed for four touchdown passes and rushed for another, upending San Diego Jewish Academy, 41-14, in Saturday’s (Nov. 10) finale held at Mission Bay High School.

Senior receiver Blake McIntyre caught two of the scoring passes.

After the Lions moved to within 15-14 in the second quarter, the Knights responded with 26 unanswered points, joining the school’s boys basketball team as a multiple CIF champion.

“We were destroyed by Calvin (Christian) last season,” recalled Mroz about an embarrassing 75-24 crunching from the Crusaders on the final day of the regular season. “We said, ‘no, that’s not going to happen again this year.'”

This season, the Knights took care of business by avenging the Crusaders, 42-16, to capture the Ocean League crown and gain the top seed in the playoffs. Yet they knew another meeting with their long-time arch-rivals was possible until SDJA, the third seed, pulled the upset in the semifinals to gain its berth into the final.

“The Lions came out tough,” added Mroz. “But we knew we could handle them.”

San Diego Jewish was seeking to avenge an earlier 53-14 setback to the Knights, moving to within a point midway through the second period. However, Mroz connected on a 42-yard scoring pass down the middle of the field to wide receiver Carter Hallahan to open the floodgates. Both are juniors.

Foothills Christian (9-2 overall) has never lost to San Diego Jewish in eight all-time meetings.

“We’ve been working hard all season for this,”: Mroz added. “We said our goal at the start of the season was to win this CIF championship.”

Taking the snaps from junior center Andrew Lyyjoki, the Mroz-McIntyre combination was good for three touchdowns, including a short, 8-yard pass to the corner of the end zone to quickly open the scoring.

Meanwhile, the Knights defense tossed a second-half shutout. The feature play saw senior defensive end Nicholas Grant nearly sack the Lions quarterback. Granit made just enough contact to too float forward, making for an easy interception by junior linebacker Hunter Nickell.

“We came out and got it done,” added Mroz, who served as a team captain along with seniors Daniel Lyyjoki, P.J. Zastoupil, and Jadon Bankhead for head coach Joe Mackey.

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