By Talon Contributor Conner Hoyt ’15
What a cathartic win for Chaminade (12-2) Dec. 6.
The Eagles defeated (13-1) Gardena Serra Cavaliers 38-35, capturing the first football CIF Division II Southern Section Championship in school history by avenging a 36-0 loss to Serra on Oct. 18 and last year’s division championship – a game controversially lost.
On a night capped by junior Ben Kreitenberg’s 27-yard field goal to win the game, it appeared Chaminade was destined for victory.
From the onset, the Eagles’ Nest was fired up as fans cheered on their beloved team. Unfortunately, the electric atmosphere didn’t translate to a quick start as the Eagles fell 6-0 on an incredible one-handed catch by Serra receiver Deontay Burnett for a 52-yard touchdown.
Chaminade stayed persistent as two first-half TDs by senior running back Donovan Lee put us ahead 14-12. Then Serra’s athleticism shined through once again: Jordan Lasley caught a 37-yard TD pass on a screen that appeared to be going nowhere as he reversed field and eluded Chaminade defenders with the help of some nifty blocking down field. Later in the second quarter, top recruit and Serra’s versatile Adoree Jackson showed his sprained ankle wasn’t hampering him as he returned a punt for a 94-yard TD. The return included a thunderous stiff arm, several jukes, and even a hurdle that brought both sides of the field to their feet as they watched in awe.
As the first half drew to a close, Serra’s Siosifa Maama kicked a 37-yard field goal to send Serra to the locker room with a 28-14 advantage. After the kick, Chaminade Coach Ed Croson gathered his team on the field and in a very unconventional manner, delivered a mini-speech that very well could have changed his team’s outlook on the game.
The second half was an entirely different story. Aside from another special teams collapse on a 93-yard kick return for a touchdown by Adoree Jackson, the Eagles looked virtually flawless. They tied the game at 35-35 with 8:19 left. The updated score coupled with Donovan Lee’s fourth touchdown of the game stole all the momentum away from Serra.
The Eagles fought for another 4 minutes and our defense bent but refused to break as we forced Serra to turn the ball over on downs just 12 yards shy of the end zone. With the ball back in our offense’s hands, along with a chance to win the game on the final drive, senior quarterback Brad Kaaya showed he’s no stranger to the spotlight as he masterfully orchestrated a 78-yard drive highlighted by Donovan Lee’s reception and Serra’s mistakes. Ultimately, the drive led to the ensuing 27-yard field goal and the Eagles’ Nest showered their team with love.