Sixth-year Santa Fe Christian Head Coach Jon Wallace expects to suit up 35-40 players when his football team opens the 2018 season at home this Friday afternoon. That’s roughly 10 percent of the enrollment in SFC’s Solana Beach campus. Among the goals for his Eagles are winning the Coastal League title and, hopefully, improving on last year’s 8-5 record and runner-up finish in the CIF Division III Playoffs. Part of the process is following a proven plan early in the season—and that would be playing the big boys.
Wallace & Co. will begin that process Friday when they host Division II Olympian whose student population is among the top 10 in the county. Then it will be a trio of road contests at St. Augustine, La Jolla and Mount Miguel—one a team in the top 10 of the CIF’s Division I power rankings and the latter two being three times the size of Santa Fe Christian. Wallace believes that with the post-season formula being used in the current era, the risk is worth the reward.
“There are a number of positives to taking this approach, starting with the fact that we like to challenge ourselves and the kids love playing these top level teams,” said Wallace, who spent eight years as an assistant at SFC before taking over the helm. “Plus, from a power ranking perspective, you’re probably better off losing to a good team than beating a bad team although there are definitely some risk elements. We have a lot of two-way players that also end up on special teams, so injuries could be a problem against the bigger, deeper opponents.
“On the other hand, in my time here, I’ve seen the dividends that scheduling these types of opponents pays out in the second half of the season, when we’re playing teams in our league, more our size and in the playoffs.”
Wallace appears to have the experience on his roster that could make big things possible in 2018. Senior quarterback Michael Linguadoca is back to command the Wing-T/Option hybrid that has become the Eagles’ offensive trademark. Linguadoca, who doubles as SFC’s starting safety, accounted for 1,024 yards through the air and 454 with his feet as a junior—and he’ll have plenty of help.
Another senior, fullback Jack Miles, averaged over five yards per tote on his 108 carries in 2017 and heads up a deep, talented crop of running backs (seven returning players recorded over 200 yards rushing). Making the offense move is a sturdy line anchored by 6-4, 250-lb. senior center Carson Drake.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles will need to plug some holes after graduating six starters. From his nose tackle slot, Drake will be a cornerstone player for the “D” as well. His 51 solo tackles is the high among Wallace’s returners. Junior Chase Baptista, who had an outstanding season at outside linebacker last fall, will move inside where he will pair with senior Austin Rosetti. The duo combined for 91 solo tackles in ’17. Versatile senior cornerback (he’s also done turns at wide receiver and running back) Will Littlejohn, likely SFC’s fastest player, will team with Linguadoca to form a solid foundation in the secondary.
Another DB, Jack Bosman, is also the placekicker and punter. The 5-10 senior, who recently committed to Yale, is looking to continue Santa Fe Christian’s long line of high caliber kickers.
Wallace’s charges got a chance to see a “live” opponent last Friday night in a scrimmage against Serra. “The offense was ahead of the defense,” said Wallace. “I was particularly happy with what I saw from the offensive line. I thought that would be a strength but we’ve had some injuries so I wasn’t sure. They had a lot of good movement and there weren’t a lot of blown assignments.”
Coming off of last year’s CIF finals performance, he believes his senior-led squad will have some additional motivation.
“Last year, people expected us to be down and it took us about five games to get the right guys in the right spots,” recalled Wallace. “By the end of the year, that team had pretty much lived up to all of its potential. “Even though we pretty much lost on the last play of the championship game, it was really fun. “A lot of the guys who played in that game are back as seniors. I think it left a tangible hunger in the kids. From the very beginning of our preparations for this season, they’ve made it clear, ‘that’s not the way we want to end it, especially our senior year.’”
Here’s a look at the 2018 Santa Fe Christian Football schedule:
August 17 – vs. Olympian 3:30 p.m.
August 24 – at St. Augustine 7 p.m.
August 31 – at La Jolla 7 p.m.
September 7 – at Mt. Miguel 7 p.m.
September 21 – vs. Christian 3:30 p.m.
September 28 – vs. St. Margaret’s 3 p.m.
October 5 – at Classical Academy 7:30 p.m.
October 12 – at Bishop’s 6:30 p.m.
October 20 – La Jolla Country Day — Noon
October 26 – at Orange Glen 7 p.m.