By Joseph Staszewski
Christ the King didn’t pat itself on the back for a fine season after falling to Kellenberg with first place on the line.
When you’ve had a program that struggled to win for so long you can’t dismiss any kind of losing.
Sure, one of the Royals’ assistant coaches reminded the players that they finished 6-3 and had reached the CHSFL Class AA playoffs for the first time since current Syracuse University quarterback Terell Hunt lead them in 2010. They didn’t want their players completely down after a tough 21-14 loss to the Kellenberg at Mitchel Field Saturday. They also wanted to remind them not to take the losing with them into the playoffs this week.
“It is a step forward,” first-year Christ the King coach Jason Brown said. “I’m proud, but we should have beat them.”
That’s why most of the talk after was about the opportunity it missed and the lessons they needed to take forward to be a better program for the rest of this season and beyond.
“Discipline is the biggest reason we can’t stay on the field,” Brown said. “It shows in games, dropped balls, mistakes, and poor alignment. Special teams killed us. It reverts back to when I started here. Discipline, once you get rid of that and everyone is on the same page we should be rolling.”
Christ the King (6-3, 5-1) was flat during warm-ups and it showed early in the game. It struggled to tackle. Low snaps and poor punts in the wind and rain gave Kellenberg (8-1, 6-0) superb field position. It led to a 14-0 Firebird lead with 1:49 to go in the first quarter.
It was not until then that Christ the King responded. The Royals, playing without star running back Jamen Williams (shoulder), took to the air. Quarterback David Navas hit Marcus Layne along the left side. He made a move past two defenders and raced to a 69-yard touchdown to cut Kellenberg’s lead to 14-6 on the final play of the first quarter.
Layne later answered a Firebirds score with an 80-yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter. Navas hit Ahmad Fernandez with the 2-point conversion and CK trailed just 21-14. Christ the King’s defense quelled the Kellenberg attack after the first quarter and stopped them multiple times on fourth down. The Royals, which had the ball twice in the final four minutes with a chance to tie, also dropped a potential game-changing interception in the fourth quarter.
The loss to Kellenberg shouldn’t get the Royals discouraged, but heighten their awareness of what it takes to compete at the next level. The talent needs to meet the execution if their season is going to continue past facing Chaminade in the playoffs this weekend and the program is going to continue to make strides forward.
“It’s good, but we still have one goal,” Layne said. “We are trying to win the AA championship. That’s our main goal.”