The Tartans (14-0) meet Christian of El Cajon (13-0) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Granite Hills High. The game will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable throughout Southern California. For more on Christian of El Cajon, CLICK HERE.
By Devin Ugland
Special to CalHiSports.com
Head coach: Stephen Barbee (1st year, 14-0 overall). *Note: He is still considered the “interim” coach at St. Margaret’s.
Section: The Tartans won the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division champi-onship, 34-21, over Grace Brethren of Simi Valley.
League: Won Academy League (4-0)
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: Not ranked
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 2 (Division IV South)
CIF Bowl History: St. Margaret’s won the Small Schools championship over Hamilton of Hamilton City, 59-7, in 2008.
Best Win: If you take a look at the Tartans’ schedule, top-to-bottom, it seems they haven’t been tested much this season. The closest regular season game was a 38-28 win over Brethren Christian of Huntington Beach in an Academy League game on October 17. St. Margaret’s best win of the year has to be considered as its 36-34 win over St. Genevieve of Panorama City in the second round of the CIF-SS East Valley playoffs. The Tartans saw a 23-8 lead evaporate in the third quarter and led 23-20 heading in to the fourth. The Tartans’ defense held strong on a last-minute two-point conversion attempt by St. Genevieve – that would have tied the game – to seal the win.
Key Players: QB George Krantz (6-1, 175, Soph.), RB Oscar Gomez (5-7, 180, Sr.), RB/WR/CB Nick Shanks (5-9, 165, Jr.), WR Fernando Delgado (5-10, 175, Sr.), WR Jeremy Davis (5-7, 150, Soph.), DE James Eidt (6-0, 170, Soph.), CB Preston Ellis (6-0, 170, Sr.), LB Ryan Harnisch (5-8, 160, Sr.), MLB Dalan Cragun (6-2, 215, Sr.).
General Offense: It’s easy to tell, just by looking at the stats, that St. Margaret’s is a ground-and-pound type of team. Senior running back Oscar Gomez has 279 carries this season that have gone for 2,285 yards and 39 touchdowns. When the ball is not in the hands of Gomez, Nick Shanks also sees some carries. The junior has 52 carries for 477 yards and six TDs. The passing game is there when it’s needed. Sophomore George Krantz took the reins as the starting quarterback in a game on October 10 against Sage Hill of Newport Beach, after sitting out due to transfer rules, and never looked back. While he doesn’t need to throw it a lot, Krantz is ef-fective when he does. Krantz has completed 57 of 94 through the air for 1,010 yards with 13 touchdowns to three interceptions. Shanks is the main receiving tar-get for the Tartans with 25 catches on the season for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns. Fernando Delgado will also get some looks in the passing game – he has 21 catches for 273 yards and three scores.
General Defense: The Tartans switch between a 3-4 and 4-3 recognition look, which has resulted in them allowing just 11.4 points per game on the season. Barbee believes that his defensive unit is one of the most dominant that the East Valley Division had to offer. Middle linebacker Dalan Cragun is a player to watch on that side of the ball, as well as defensive back Preston Ellis, who has nine picks on the season. Defensive end James Eidt leads the push up-front for the Tartans with five sacks on the year.
Key Injuries: None
The Skinny: Running back Adrian Petty is just four yards away from eclipsing the 2,000-yard mark on the season for El Cajon Christian, meaning St. Margaret’s will likely be facing its second back of that caliber in consecutive weeks after shutting down Grace Brethren’s star running back Zikel Reddick to win the East Valley ti-tle. Coach Stephen Barbee said that the key to beating the Patriots will be to stop the run-game while forcing El Cajon Christian to throw deep.
Devin Ugland covers USC men’s basketball and football for TrojanSports.com. He has previously written for the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram and Daily Pilot. You can reach him via email: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @Devin_Ugland.