What an amazing group of football players and coaches that took to the gridiron for the Santa Fe Christian Eagles for the 2021 season. It is hard to come up with words to describe this team. Here are a few that only begin to scratch the surface: Love, sacrifince, brotherhood, camaraderie, teamwork, poise, discipline, and having each other’s back. Guys went down during the season and other guys stepped in. In a single word this team was “special,” and we celebrate what they accomplished this season on the football field.
How special you ask, well, consider the following:
The Eagles were undefeated in the regular with a record of 9-0. No SFC football team has done that in the past 15 years. 15 wins in 17 contests over the last two season.
A winning percentage (90.9%) that was the best since the 2004 team coached by Brian Sipe that ended the season 12-1 (92.3%). (Brian Sipe is pictured in the team photo the night before our last game)
Coastal League Champions. The team was 5-0 in the Coastal League this season which is tied for the best Coastal League record by any SFC team. The teams in 2012, 2011 and 2006 were also 5-0 in league play. However, recall that due to COVID-19, the Eagles missed a regular season game against Tri City. Given that Tri City’s league record was 2-4, it is almost a certainty that SFC would have won that game. Had that game been played, and if the Eagles had won the game, the Eagles would have had a Coastal League record of 6-0, the best since 2004.
Winning a CIF quarterfinal contest with a game winning drive in the last 2 minutes and extending their unbeaten record to 10-0.
Their 10-0 record is tied the longest single season winning streaks in team history, equaling the teams from 1995 and 2004. A win over Tri City and this 2021 team would have won 11 in a row, an all-time single season record for SFC.
For many of the Seniors, their combined Varsity and Junior Varsity record over their sophomore, junior and senior seasons was a staggering 25-2 with the only loss being to a D1 Grossmont team last year and a semi-final loss in the CIF playoffs this season. As a JV team their sophomore year, the boys went 10-0. I was told that it is the only time that an SFC JV team has had an undefeated season.
Indeed, this was truly a special team - one for the ages – and it is a remarkable group of young men.
Certainly, nobody wanted to see this season end with a loss to the Mater Dei Crusaders last night. Rather, we all wanted this “dream season” to conclude with a CIF Championship. But alas, that did not come to pass. However, a loss in the CIF semi-finals does not detract from what these young men accomplished during the 2021 campaign and the team should hold their heads high. Mater Dei is a very strong team, one of the best in San Diego County. If the Crusaders had been in Division I, they probably would have played in the CIF Open Division playoff bracket which is reserved for the top 4 teams in San Diego County.
This team was “special” and there were a number of players that contributed. Consider the following:
Thomas Greupner (Senior Quarterback) – 1,570 passing yards, 71% completion percentage, 14 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Statistically this is the best season an SFC quarterback has had since the 2009 season (13 seasons ago) which is as far back as MaxPreps stats are available. Greupner’s season is likely one of the most (if not the most) prolific seasons by a quarterback in SFC history. Thomas also added 172 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. A truly remarkable season by a remarkable young man.
Strong Running by a Bevy of Senior Running Backs. The Eagles put up over 2,550 rushing yards this season, led by Luca Torti (Senior – 475 yards and 8 touchdowns), Cooper Whitton (Senior – also 475 yards and 8 touchdowns), Colton Lehberg (Senior – 334 yards and 7 touchdowns), Jackson Bush (Senior – 280 yards and 5 touchdowns), and Dante Rotchford (Senior - 270 yards and 5 touchdowns (3 in the CIF quarterfinal game)). The Eagles’ running game was propelled by a veteran offensive line led by Seniors Joey Olmore, Tim Deveau, Evan Bennett, Ben Coons, DJ Tovtin, Bert Carnes, Chase Wetsel, and Jacob Albrecht.
Zack Marshall (Junior) recorded over 1,000 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. This might be the most receiving yards by any player in SFC history. It is the most since 2009 the last year MaxPreps stats are available. Cooper Whitton (Senior) had 183 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns and Brendon DeBont (Senior) had 163 receiving yards and 1 touchdown.
This season the Eagles racked up almost 5,000 all-purpose yards (running, receiving, punt return, kickoff return, and interception return yards). Seven different players racking up more than 250 all-purpose yards, including Zack Marshall (Junior – 1084 yards), Kevin Olah (Sophomore – 692 yards), Cooper Whitton (Senior – 656 yards), Luca Torti (Senior – 498 yards), Jackson Bush (Senior – 475 yards), Colton Lehberg (Senior – 396 yards), and Dante Rotchford (Senior – 275 yards).
In terms of points scored, Colton Lehberg (Senior) led the team with 98 points (7 touchdowns, 3 field goals, and 47 extra points). This was the third most points in a season by an SFC player since 2010. In the past 11 years only Steven Britton (114 points) last season and Tony Miro (108 points) in the 2013 season have scored more points. Other leading point scorers were Cooper Whitton (Senior - 60 points on 10 TDs in only 7 games), Zack Marshall (Junior - 60 points on 10 TDs) and Luca Torti (Senior – 50 points on 8 TDS and a 2-point conversion). If Cooper Whitton had not been injured and missed four and a half games, it is very likely that he would have challenged both Britton’s 114 points and Miro’s 108 points.
On the defensive side of the ball, leading the team in tackles were Dante Rotchford (Senior – 69 tackles), Luca Torti (Senior – 61 tackles), and Luke Heggie (Junior – 47 tackles).
The Eagles’ pass rush was strong all season helping SFC shut down two of the best passing attacks in San Diego County – La Jolla Country Day (#1 in the county) and Orange Glen (#4 in the county). Leading the team in quarterback sacks were Luke Heggie (Junior - 10.5 sacks), Ben Coons (Senior – 5 sacks), and Dante Rotchford (Senior – 5 sacks). Four other players logging 4 sacks each, including 2 freshmen: Chase Wetsel (Senior), Jackson Noonan (Freshman), and Nate Clifford (Freshman).
The SFC secondary played strong all year and recorded 12 interception, led by Kevin Olah (Sophomore – 4 interceptions), Brendon DeBont (Senior – 3 interceptions), and Zack Marshall (Junior – 3 interceptions). Jackson Bush (Senior) and Colton Lehberg (Senior) also intercepted passes.
A special shout out to the coaches for leading and mentoring the players and for putting together winning game plans.
Over the next couple of weeks, we should be seeing some announcements about SFC players that made the All‑Coastal League Team and hopefully a few SFC players will make one of All CIF Teams.
Importantly, for many of these players this is not the end, but a beginning. The JV team had a strong year going 8-1. The freshman class includes over 30 boys that played football this year. Many of the freshmen and many sophomores had the opportunity to play in a number of varsity games and they made significant contributions at the varsity level.
The future is bright for SFC Football.
WE ARE SO BLESSED