East County Sports

Patriots return from Capistrano with win

The Christian Patriots following their win over St. Margaret's on Friday night.

Jake Davila and Joey Merritt as Christian High ball boys.




EastCountySports.com staff report


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Christian High juniors Jake Davila and Joey Merritt have had a connection that dates back to before they were the ball boys at Patriots’ games as youngsters.

The pair have been playing football together for so long that their first varsity touchdown between quarterback and receiver on Friday night must’ve seemed like a backyard game of catch.

Davila accounted for three touchdowns, two on the ground, and the strike to Merritt, as the QB had 187 total yards to lead the Patriots over host St. Margaret’s Epispical School, 20-16.

The duo connected six times on the night, good for 73 yards, as Patriots improved to 2-0.

“We’ve been best friends since I was born so it was fun to get on offense and score our first varsity touchdown together,” Merritt said. We had a very hard-fought win with a great team effort. And our defense played an incredible game against an incredible team.”

The Christian defense prevented St. Margaret’s from putting together many threatening drives in this one.

Christian High wraps up a St. Margaret’s ball carries on Friday night.

The Tartans missed two field goals – one was blocked by junior Shane Bailey – and Christian intercepted a pair of passes, including one by Merritt that practically sealed the game and the other by J.C. Gustin early in the first quarter.

Junior Aaron Shebloski led the Patriot defense with nine takcles, including three for loss.

The two pals connected for the opening touchdown on a 32-yard strike on a 4th-and-11.

“That play was never run in practice,” Merritt said. “They were in man coverage so coach called all verticals and I beat my and and Jake made a beautiful throw. It was an incredible night. We had a lot of fun.

Davila has three touchdown passes with no interceptions this season.

“Throwing the ball to Joey did bring back some good memories,” Davila said. “Our offense in the first half was pretty slow but coach Danny (Mitchell) challenged us in the second half to flip the switch and play some ball. This was a giant win for the program.

At the end of the first quarter, the Tartans’ Derek Smith had 90-yard punt return for a touchdown, as the game was tied 7-all after the first quarter

After the Patriots’ kept the Tartans out of the end zone late in the first half, Christian decided to move forward with a last-minute drive.

However, an intentional grounding in the end zone proved costly, giving St. Margaret’s a 9-7 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, Christian mostly ran the ball on a scoring drive, as Davila had a 4-yard touchdown to make 13-9.

The Tartans had their best series to regain the lead with a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Christian High breaks through to block a field goal.

St. Margaret’s quarterback Jack Ruff had 78 yards of passing offense on the series, which culiminated in a 20-yard touchdown pass to Will Stahl in the back left corner of the end zone.

A couple of series later, the Tartans were punting from their own end zone but a low snap sent the kicker on the run but he could only get to the four-yard line.

Two plays later, Davila scored on 2-yard touchdown run to make it 20-16.

The Tartans would get the ball three more times but couldn’t get a drive together against the Pats.

Christian was 1 for 13 on third-down attempts in the game, but the Pats held St. Margaret’s to 2-for-13 on third down.

Sophomore Ryder Jennings had three solo tackles, including one for loss, for the Pats.

Christian High will host the Mission Bay Bucs (1-0) next Saturday night at Valley Stadium.


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