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St. Margaret's Finds Win in Bag of Tricks


The playbook at St. Margaret's must look like something that Coach Brady Lock doodled on a napkin back in the days when the Tartans played eight-man football.

A hook and ladder here. A fake punt there. A triple reverse pitch pass thrown in for good measure. All of which were evident Friday night.

"That's Brady," Capistrano Valley Christian Coach Keith Patefield said. "Everybody knows he's going to use those plays. You just have to stop them."

Patefield's Eagles couldn't do it in the Academy League championship game at Mission Viejo High.

Lock reached deep into his bag of tricks and St. Margaret's executed enough of the trick plays to capture its first 11-man title, 21-17.

The first-place showdown was a nail-biter. After several missed passes by Capistrano Valley Christian in the end zone as the clock wound down, the game wasn't decided until the final play when St. Margaret's defensive back Alex Perin stopped Capistrano Valley Christian running back Dustin Smith at the Tartans' 15-yard line while Smith was dashing for the end zone after taking in a screen pass from quarterback Jamie Tellier.

"We knew we had to contain them," St. Margaret's defensive back Jimmy Freeman said. "They played us tough. They were well prepared."

It took every trick the Tartans could come up with to pull this one out.

St. Margaret's took a 7-3 lead four minutes, 21 seconds before halftime on a hook-and-ladder play that saw Perin take a pitch from Freeman at the six-yard line and score from there after quarterback Rhett Swanson had passed eight yards to Freeman.

The Tartans went up 14-3 with 5:15 left in the third period on a four-yard run by Darren Kelly that was set up by Perin's 45-yard halfback pass to Freeman.

Capistrano Valley pulled off a few stunts of its own, mainly a batch of inside reverses, swing passes and a few naked bootlegs from Tellier that helped get them back in contention. A 14-yard run by Smith with 10:57 left to be played and Smith's two-point conversion run made it, 14-11, in favor of St. Margaret's and when running back Ryan Allen scored from five yards on an inside reverse with 8:40 to go, the Eagles took a three-point lead.

But Swanson guided the Tartans 59 yards on eight plays for the game-winning drive, the final 26 coming when he passed to Freeman, who was cutting across the middle. Freeman ran to the end zone, where he just did stretch the ball across the goal line as he was driven out of bounds with five minutes remaining.

Capistrano Valley fought back to the Tartan 15, but Tellier saw one potential scoring toss dropped and another sail a bit high and through a wide open receiver's hands in the end zone.

"That was my man," Freeman, who also plays defense, said. "It's a good thing he through it high or this game might have had a different outcome."

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