Four years ago, Calvary Christian coach Brian Osborne was teaching his players the basic fundamentals of football:
Blocking, tackling, catching and throwing.
They didn’t have a great idea how to put on pads, much less how to line up and carry out blocking assignments as part of a complicated offensive scheme.
In that, the first year of the school’s varsity program, it was simply trying to build a foundation that could pay off down the line.
Consider the foundation built.
On Friday, the Knights will travel to Sherwood Christian to face off in the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association state championship game. It is Calvary’s first trip to a state finale after losing in the state semifinals in each of the past two seasons.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Osborne said. “Our goal every year is to get better. We wanted to at least get to the final four. Three years ago we were in the final four and honestly we were just happy to be there. Last year we were there and knew we had a chance. This year, we want to take that next step.”
At the beginning of the year, players like running back Anthony Santiago said that it was championship or bust this season. They’re happy to have their chance.
“It means we’re currently on path to achieve our goal,” Santiago said. “We’re not going to stop until we get there.”
Standing in the Knights’ way will be Sherwood Christian, one of just two teams to deal them a loss all season long. In the first go-round, Sherwood scored a touchdown inside the final two minutes of the game to win 26-20. Osborne knows his team is facing a tough task in the rematch.
Sherwood holds the advantage in size, speed and numbers, but Osborne said it will come down to how well the Knights carry out their assignments.
“We know Sherwood is bigger and faster than we are, so the only chance we have is that we have to play a solid game in terms of protecting the football and carrying out assignments,” he said. “We spent most of our day in the classroom on Monday installing the game plan and then we’ve worked hard on our techniques today.”
Santiago, who has had enormous success in the running game all season, credited the offensive line’s work all year. He said he expects that to continue on Friday.
“We may not have the biggest offensive line, but we have the best,” he said. “They’ve produced all year. They know how to execute on Friday.”
A win would prove a quick rise to success for the Calvary Christian football program as well as athletics overall. It is only the second time in school history, which began in 1977, that a boys sports team has played for a state championship.
A win, Osborne said, would fire up an already excited community.
“It carries over to the community and to the other teams, as well,” he said. “We’re just excited to have this big opportunity. They’re ready to go.”