SOLANA BEACH — Moments before Santa Fe Christian and Orange Glen kicked off in the first game for both teams in 480 days because the 2020 football season was postponed by COVID-19, Eagles running back Stephen Britton couldn’t suppress his emotions.
“Right here!” Britton screamed on the SFC sideline Friday afternoon. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”
Then, on the first play from scrimmage, Britton took a pitch, burst around the left side, wiggled past two would-be tacklers and didn’t stop until crossing the goal line for a 56-yard touchdown.
The play epitomized a wild, who-can-score-next, offensive slugfest as Santa Fe Christian romped to an 81-54 win. The 135 points set a San Diego Section record for most points scored in a 11-man game, shattering the old mark of 119 set in 1999 when Rancho Bernardo beat West Hills 71-48.
SFC’s 81 points eclipsed the school record that dated to a 69-6 win over Mountain Empire in 2002.
Coaches and players, though, weren’t talking about records. They talked about the sheer joy of playing football again.
“In spite of the score, no matter who won or who lost, you saw the camaraderie between the teams,” said Santa Fe Christian head coach Jon Wallace. “It was clean play. The kids had fun. They had anticipated this for so long.”
“Oh, my God,” said SFC kicker Ian Austin, who booted 10 extra points and a field goal. “The atmosphere, seeing the fans in the background, my brothers around me. It felt a little like normal in a time when nothing’s normal.”
Probably no one enjoyed the game more than Britton. On Sept. 20, 2019, he rushed for 310 yards and five touchdowns against La Jolla Country Day. The next week he was returning the opening kickoff, made a cut and his knee buckled.
He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and his season was over. On Friday, he proved the injury was in the past, rushing for 252 yards on 19 carries and scoring four touchdowns.
“I promised myself I’d be better than I was,” he said. “I get chills thinking about that first run. There was no better feeling than taking it to the house.”
Santa Fe Christian led 35-6 late in the first quarter and it looked like the game was bound for fourth-quarter running clock. Contributing to the damage, Orange Glen junior quarterback Dennis Andrew lost a fumble on the Patriots’ first play from scrimmage.
Andrew recovered rather well. With the Patriots spreading the field with fleet receivers, Andrew completed 28 of 43 passes for 505 yards and seven touchdowns. The TDs covered 79, 57, 48, 70, 29, 15 and 10 yards.
“He’s a good one,” said Orange Glen head coach Jason Patterson. “He’s a player.”
As for Britton’s comeback performance, Wallace said, “We talked about what motivated us was love and gratitude, not resentment and bitterness (about not playing last fall). I think the way he played represented that.
“He was having a blast like a little kid.”