After losing to Le Grand last season in the same game, the Cardinals had one goal they’ve been focused on hard all season: to get back in and win the division title game. However, despite great efforts during the playoffs and in the final game, they were unable to overcome a strong passing offense from the Ripon Christian Knights Friday night at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, California.
This year, a 9-1 overall record and perfect 4-0 results in the Sacramento Metropolitan Sports League was enough to earn the Cardinals the third seed in Division 7. Their opponents, Ripon Christian, enjoyed a 10-2 overall season with a 6-1 record in the Southern League, putting them at the top of the game. He got them to first place. The Knights defeated Rio Vista 57-0 in the opening round before dismantling Stone Ridge Christian 55-12.
The Cardinal enjoyed a comprehensive home win over sixth seed Justin 45-8 and then hit the road a week later to defeat second seed Le Grand 44-0 in the semifinals.
The Knights enjoyed an 11-2 overall season, with a 6-1 record in the Southern League. They defeated Rio Vista 57-0 in the opening round before beating Stone Ridge Christian 55-12 in the semifinals a week earlier.
To start the game, the Knights got an early lead thanks to a hard five-yard touchdown run from running back Grant Sonkey. After a missed point after a try, the Knights enjoyed a 6-0 lead.
Ripon Christian opened the scoring in the first quarter after Grant Sonke hit it on a hard five-yard run. Unfortunately, the point-by-point attempt didn’t fare well, so the Knights only had a 6-0 lead.
That lead would disappear on the next drive thanks to Billy Hinkle’s one-yard touchdown run, tying the game at six. A flip to Brother Noah Hinkle’s two-point conversion gave the Cardinals an 8–6 lead.
In the second quarter, the Knights would connect on a massive 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trey Fasani to Brady Grounds. After a successful two-point conversion, the Knights led 14-8.
Just before halftime, the Cardinals quickly responded, this time through the air when Caden Pasco connected with Hinkle for an additional 40-yard touchdown run. With less than two minutes remaining after another successful two-point conversion, the Cardinals drove to a breakup by narrowest margins by 16-14.
With just over eight minutes left in the third quarter, the Knights pulled right back and never looked back, thanks to a 25-yard strike from Fasani on their massive goal at tight end, Jayce Bidelman, putting them up 22-16.
With the Cardinals driving, the Knights forced a fourth-and-one attempt and forced a touchdown turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter. With momentum and the ball, Fasani added his third passing score on a 13-yard pass to Eli Trypsema. Even though they failed the two-point conversion, they still went up 28-16 with about 6:37 minutes left in the game.
The Cardinals looked to storm that lead immediately when they drove the ball inside Knight’s 20-yard line. But on a shot toward the endzone, Pascoe’s pass is intercepted, giving the Knights the ball again with just over five minutes left in the game.
From there, up two notches, the Knights have run out of the clock and will be celebrating their Division 7 Championship moments later.