2nd place no longer

Kings beat Rams for first time in 14 years


Michealla Foules

Assistant coaches Larry Johnson and Sean Kilduff embrace on the field after Stagg beat St. Mary’s.

A sea of brown and gold packed Sanguinetti Stadium at St. Mary’s High School last Friday night. The roaring crowd was filled with bundled up parents, students, faculty, and alumni — everyone there to witness the game of the year. The football team took the field with determination as former players lined the side for support. Anticipation hung in the air.

Would this be the year?

Stagg’s overall record before kickoff was 7-1 with a TCAL record of 3-0. They were ranked 241 in the state and on a seven game winning streak. St. Mary’s carried an overall record of 6-2 and a TCAL record of 3-0. They were ranked 68 in the state and on a three game winning streak. Stagg had not beaten St. Mary’s since 1999 when the team went undefeated. And St. Mary’s has gone undefeated in TCAL since their loss to West in 2006.

First quarter – Stagg entered the game with high intensity, but St. Mary’s proved that they wouldn’t back down.

Statement – Stagg made a statement on its opening drive. Senior quarterback Wayne Brooks handed it off to senior halfback Daniel Ruffin who threw a long touchdown to senior Andru Jones, giving Stagg a 6-0 lead with 9:11 left. Scoring in the first three minutes sets the tone for the rest of the game.

Fight – Patiently driving down the field, St. Mary’s proved it could fight back. The Rams responded with a TD run by sophomore Bryan Pascual tying the game at 6-6 with 3:46 left on the clock. Their PAT was no good.

Big play – After a Brooks 18-yard run to the Rams’ one yard line, Ruffin hurdled over the line to make the big score near the end of the quarter. Stagg went for a two-point conversion, but came up short as Brooks was tackled with the ball just before the end zone. Stagg continued to put points on the board, but the tackle of Brooks reminded the crowd of the skill level and intensity of the team. This was not going to be easy. Score at the end of the quarter, 12-6.

Second quarter – Stagg continued to put points on the board while St. Mary’s played the slow and steady tortoise.

Defensive block – A Delta King tackle prevented a game changing touchdown. With less than nine minutes left in the quarter, DaVon Thompson tackled a driving St. Mary’s player causing a fumble and blocking his clear path to the endzone.

Long run – The second longest run of the game put life back into St. Mary’s. Rams’ senior Jaelin Ratliff scored a 55 yard TD, making the score 26-18. It took the patient and calm Rams almost the entire quarter to get more points on the board.

Third quarter – Fumble and incomplete pass put ripples in the Kings’ so far smooth sailing.

Turning point – A shocking fumble opened the door for the Rams. Lester Williams, after a long rush downfield tripped, fell and fumbled the ball. The Rams recovered on the 25 yard line. The fumble set fire to the Rams who later in the quarter caused two incomplete passes.
Jones doubles up – A second TD for Jones created a comfortable lead. Jones scored with eight minutes left, making the score 40-18. Without this touchdown the Rams’ fourth quarter rally would have resulted in overtime and might have caused a different outcome for the game.

Foreshadowing – An incomplete pass set the tone for next quarter. Ruffin dropped a pass from Brooks with 1:12 left in the quarter that resulted in a change of possession. This mistake foreshadowed Ruffin’s later fumble in the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter – Rams’ comeback effort put a scare into Kings, but the Kings pulled through.

Comeback – A TD in the first minute gave Rams hope. St. Mary’s running back Marcell Spady put the Rams back on scoreboard and caused Kings fans to bite their nails in anticipation. After the TD, the Rams had a little extra pep in their step.

From zero to hero – The second time around proved to be the charm. Ruffin fumbled a potential game-sealing TD toward the end of the quarter. But then with 15 seconds left on the clock, Ruffin picked off a potential tying touchdown and ran it downfield ensuring the Kings’ 40-32 win.

Post game

The crowd, already on its feet, jumped over the railing of the stands and rushed the field to celebrate with the team and coaches. As coaches and player embraced each other, some tears of joy running down their face, the group erupted into shouting, “Stagg State! You know!” The team and the crowd left the field with their heads held high and yelling “Champions!”
This was the year.