Sipe upbeat despite opening loss

In his six years as head football coach at Santa Fe Christian, former NFL great Brian Sipe, has taken the Eagles to the CIF Championship three times, in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Last year, was a down season for the Eagles, finishing 3-6-1 and not making the playoffs for the first time in the Sipe era.

Sipe has always been optimistic concerning his Eagles. Despite losing their season opener 19-7 on Sept. 6 at their Solana Beach campus against a very good La Jolla Vikings (1-0) team, Sipe remains upbeat once again.

“Defensively, we have a great group,” said Sipe. “We are deeper than last year. Our inexperience on offense hurt us - coupled with some mental mistakes. We did some goofy things today; the fumbled snap when we were first-and-goal on their 6-yard line; fumbles, interceptions and not scoring when we were at the goal line. But, the most important thing was that our kids are fighters, they never quit. I’ve been around a lot of football and these kids never stopped fighting. That’s the kind of kids you like to coach.”

On the La Jolla Vikings’ second possession of the first quarter, they went on an 11-play drive. The Eagles defense clamped down and senior Vikings kicker Lee Abelkop booted a 42-yard field goal to make it 3-0.

The La Jolla coaching staff alternated their two quarterbacks, Zac Zlatic and Henry Nawahine every other Vikings series.

In the second quarter, one of those goofy things that Sipe referred to happened. On fourth and 14, the Eagles bobbled a snap trying to punt the ball away and punter senior Eagle Brock Miller got tackled on his 9-yard line. The next play Zlatic faked a bootleg and hit Taylor Davis all alone in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown. Abelkop missed the PAT and it was 9-0 Vikings. Abelkop made up that missed PAT minutes later with another long field goal - a 45-yarder giving the Vikings a 12-0 lead at the half.

Santa Fe Christian came out with a 10-play drive starting the third quarter. Again, another mistake occurred when a fumbled snap on a field goal attempt denied the Eagles a chance at three points. Toward the end of the third quarter the Eagles drove the length of the field and had first and goal on the Vikings 6-yard line but again failed to score.

But, there was no quit in the Eagles. In the fourth quarter quarterback Keaton Giannotti pitched the ball to running back Sam Hoekstra who threw a 41-yard pass to Chase Weaver streaking down the sidelines. It was first-and-goal for the Eagles on the La Jolla 2-yard line. Travis Berglund punched it in and Brock Miller was successful on the PAT kick, closing the gap to 12-7.

La Jolla then mounted a nine-play drive, only to be stopped by the strong defense of the Eagles. With 3:02 left Santa Fe Christian took over, trying to mount a rally for the winning score. With 1:03 left though, a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown from Vikings linebacker Thomas Bowman, sealed the victory for La Jolla.

“Even after La Jolla returned the interception and sealed the game, we still came out and tried to move the ball,” said Sipe. “This is our third go around with La Jolla and it’s the first time that they have beaten us. My hat goes off to the La Jolla coaching staff and team. They played a better game and out-executed us.”