By Benjamin Leibowitz
It was anything but an easy game for the Christ the King football team Saturday. The Royals squared off against Xavier in a repeat of last year’s city championship and took on a difficult offensive scheme known as a “single wing.”
But while Christ the King may have come up short against the Knights last year, this year’s Royals squad was more determined than ever and that will led to a season-opening 24-12 victory.
“It was like a heavyweight fight,” Royals coach Jason Brown said. “We have a new quarterback. It was a tough game but we finished. And that’s our motto, finishing.”
The Royals got on the board early, but Xavier’s offense hit its stride in the second quarter.
The “single wing” is an offense that is designed to deceive—nearly all the plays in the scheme are rush and passing attempts designed to come as a surprise.
Xavier did its fair share of surprising as well, mixing up plays and scoring 12 points in the second quarter as Jalen Johnson hit the ground running. The senior barreled into the end zone from four yards out for his first touchdown of the afternoon, sparking the Knights and setting Christ the King back on its toes.
Xavier was throwing Christ the King’s defensive rhythm off early when the Knights started passing the ball and while passes came few and far between, Malik Fisher’s 31-yard reception was a momentum-changer late in the second quarter.
Facing a five-point deficit, the Royals desperately needed a spark before halftime.
That spark came from Justin Terry. With time about to run out in the first half, Terry hauled in a slip screen from quarterback Demetrius Wilson, and took it all the way down the field for a touchdown.
Christ the King went into the break with a 14-12 lead and the Royals walked off the field with a spring in their step.
The Royals did not allow another point for the remainder of the game as they locked in on both sides of the ball.
Sophomore running back Andre McGann stepped up in a big way for his team down the stretch. McGann, who is behind several running backs on the depth chart, proved that he belonged in this game. He broke off a 52-yard run and a 21-yard run, as well as saving a fumble and running it back to the line of scrimmage.
“I always tell myself that life is about adjustments, and I just needed to adjust, and I adjusted well,” McGann said. “And now I need to step up and focus on next week,”
Terrell Jones also ran an interception into the end zone for a touchdown, playing a shutdown defensive game at cornerback.
“I jumped the route, and saw the passes well,” said Jones of the play.
By the final whistle, the Royals defense settled into its stride and proved that Christ the King has one of the deepest units in the city.
This defense is loaded with college recruits including cornerback Randy Pringle, who is committed to Stony Brook; defensive end Anthony Lang, who is committed to Albany; and defensive tackle Jonathan Coste, who has offers from Old Dominion, Monmouth, Delaware State, and Central Connecticut State. Kylon Coombs also stepped up in the waning moments, coming through with a big sack and fumble recovery.
It wasn’t a perfect game and, going forward, the Royals hope to settle into a rhythm from the opening whistle. Nonetheless, a win is a win and now, it’s just about the next game and the next hit.
“Defense wins games,” Coons said. “If you can’t play defense they score, and we’ll lose.”