Friday, June 14, 2024

Sanders brothers carry St. Francis football past Cathedral

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LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — It was a brotherly affair for St. Francis High School at their homecoming game against Cathedral.

Up 14-7 early in the third quarter, St. Francis called for a reverse play in the Cathedral red zone, with freshman Shawn Sanders taking the pitch from senior John Calmette and throwing to his older brother John Sanders for a 10-yard touchdown.

“It was really exciting,” said Shawn Sanders. “I heard the play call, and I’m like, ‘I get to throw to my brother for a touchdown.’ And it worked.”

It was the first of three touchdowns St. Francis scored on their first six plays from scrimmage in the third quarter, as St. Francis took down Cathedral 41-25 in a key league matchup Friday night at Jim Bonds Stadium.

John Sanders highlighted the offense for St. Francis (7-1, 3-0 in Angelus League) at quarterback, putting up 339 total yards with two rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, and the receiving touchdown from his younger brother.

“Once we scored we just kept going,” said John Sanders. “It was really cool, especially catching a touchdown pass from my brother.”

Shawn Sanders made the game-changing play right before halftime.

With the game tied at 7-7, Cathedral (3-5, 1-2 Angelus) attempted a 22-yard field goal with under a minute left in the half. St. Francis junior Jamie Lawyer blocked the kick and Sanders recovered the ball and ran it back for a 90-yard touchdown, turning Cathedral’s potential lead into a St. Francis score.

“I saw green the whole way,” said the younger Sanders. “I had to make some moves, but I had some blockers and we got to finish what we wanted.”

“It could have been 10-7 them at the half,” St. Francis coach Dean Herrington said, “and in the matter of two plays it was 21-7 us.”

Cathedral junior Antonio Walton opened the scoring with a 96-yard return for a touchdown on the game’s opening kickoff. Walton found a seam down the left side of the field and sped untouched to the end zone. The score gave Cathedral an early 7-0 lead and an instant hole for St. Francis to climb out of.

The Golden Knights tied the game midway through the second quarter on a 16-yard TD pass from the elder Sanders to Preston Jernegan. It was a fitting reward for the senior on Senior Night, as he made an impact on a previous drive defensively with a third-down sack that forced a punt.

“We were a little sloppy on offense early,” said Herrington, “but we regrouped at halftime and started making some plays.”

Cathedral responded on the next possession, driving 62 yards on 12 plays and attempting a fourth and goal on the St. Francis 1-yard line. A penalty brought them back 5 yards, where they then opted for a field goal attempt to retake the lead but watched their blocked kick turn into a 14-7 deficit.

St. Francis poured it on in the third quarter with their newfound lead, scoring three touchdowns within the first three plays on each of their first three possessions. The second came on a 65-yard pass from Sanders to senior Tyler Cofre on the first play of their next drive after the reverse throw. The third came on a Sanders keeper as he scampered 26 yards for his first of two rushing touchdowns.

“He’s just an unbelievable player,” said Herrington of the elder Sanders. “He’s going to get better and better and better.”

Cathedral turned it on in the fourth quarter with touchdowns on consecutive drives to make it a two-score game, but St. Francis chewed up too much time on its final possession to give the Phantoms a comeback chance.

Calmette added impact plays on offense, rushing for 62 yards on nine carries and adding three catches for 72 yards. John Sanders finished 10-14 passing for 216 yards with two touchdowns and added 113 rushing yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns.

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