CHARLOTTE – Charlotte Christian’s historic season continued with a small bump in the road against rival Charlotte Latin on Oct. 19.
The Knights defense entered the game having allowed seven points total through their first seven games of the season. That’s never been done before.
They were playing the Hawks, who were the last NCISAA team to beat Christian, although that was a one-point loss in the 2016 championship game. And, the Knights were getting ready to host Providence Day, last year’s runners-up in a week.
Charlotte Christian opened the game by lining up offsides, an unusual occurrence for such a disciplined team. Some players mentioned the Knights may have been looking forward to the Oct. 26 showdown with Providence Day.
Whatever the reasons, all of the bend up emotion made for an unusual mix for the Knights, but after all of the dust settled a 41-7 final score hardly signals alarm bells.
“We addressed earlier in the week that the points thing just wasn’t important for us,” Charlotte Christina coach Jason Estep said. “The important thing for us is to go out and compete at a high level. I’m kind of glad that’s out of the way, really. And the crazy thing is that we have a higher expectation. I think they were disappointed that we gave up points, although we muffed a punt and gave them a short field and we just can’t do that.
“But, you know, if a 41-7 win where we get 500 yards of offense and give up 140 is a frustrating night for us than we’ll take it. We can’t be that way. This was a good win.”
The Knights twice had pivotal fourth down plays that set the momentum early.
“When I look at our personnel, for me, I look at those guys and I know I trust those guys and trust the coaches are going to make the right play call and get us in the right position,” Estep said. “That’s what it comes down to on those plays.”
On the first, a 4th-and-10 from the Hawks’ 43, Christian quarterback Garrett Shrader hit Ricky Kofoed for 42 yards, setting up a Shrader keeper to get the Knights on the board.
Just four minutes later, on 4th-and-four from their 26, Shrader hit his tight end Kofoed again for a 14-0 lead.
“I’m just thinking to catch the ball,” Kofoed said. “If the ball is in the air, I have to get it regardless of the situation. That’s all I’m thinking there.”
Josh Eboboko’s run made it 21-0 at the half, but Latin opened the second half with a Jake Helfrich to Andrew Sumichrast touchdown, but the Hawks wouldn’t get another first down the rest of the way.
“I don’t know if we were kind of looking toward next week because we lined up wrong on the first play and we made some mistakes,” said star linebacker JT Killen. “But we got our defense going and especially after they scored because that pissed us off.”
The Knights buckled down defensively, and after touchdowns by running back Ben Williams, another Shrader run and a third connection to Kofoed the Knights led 41-7 with 5:56 left before called off the dogs.
“We made some adjustments at the half,” Estep said. “They were widening their splits out on us and we had to make some adjustments. But our coaches took care of that and, yeah, we shut them down. We wore on them. They started to get tired and that affects their offense because a lot of those guys go both ways. We can get after them by affecting just one side of the ball, and it really affects both sides because they have so many two-way guys.”
The Knights close the regular season with Providence Day on Oct. 25.
The Chargers snapped a five-game win streak with 21-14 loss to Christ School last week, but come in with stars like Jacolbe Cowan, Osita Ekwonu and Kedrick Bingley-Jones on defense and Cody Cater, Ikem Ekwonu, Porter Rooks, Nickel Fields and others on offense.
“They’re big and they’re physical,” Estep said. “It will be interesting to see because I do think they’re a really good team and they’re doing a much better job lately. I think some of (the players) were kind of focusing on them and next week. I mean, they’re right down the road so our guys want them.”