The Churchill HS Open team, after a year in hiatus, returned the high school national scene determined to capitalize on their Oregon HS State Championship. Traveling again as far west as possible, the Churchill crew landed in windy Minnesota to do battle. Saturday morning proved to be a volatile with the number one seed overall losing at universe point first round because they didn't win the initial flip. The gusty 15-20mph winds were causing serious problems for the open division and Churchill began one of the many victims as they didn't win a single flip for position once on Saturday...
Their first game against White Bear Lake was filled with countless drops by both teams as they tried to adjust to the bouncing disc in the wind. Churchill would emerge victorious 13-8, but the game was much closer than the score indicated.
Second round would put Churchill against Minneapolis South, who had just beat Lakeside in the first round. This game was incredibly close and only in the very end did Minneapolis South capitalize and take the game 13-11.
Third round Churchill needed to beat Lakeside to create a three way tie for first, but Lakeside had made their windy adjustments and were ready for the CHS cup. Typical of Lakeside, they kept their cool and were able to get the first break. Lakeside played patient O and even though the game ended with a Churchill score on hardcap, it was too little too late with a 8-12 loss.
Going 1-2 meant that Churchill would earn a harder cross-over than originally planned. The winds were now up to 25 mph gusts and the Churchill cup was ready to shut down Cathedral. The match-up was one that Churchill was feeling good about, but early drops and miscommunication led Churchill into a hole they could not climb out of. Instead of fighting Cathedral, they ended up fighting themselves and the frustration came out in some of the poorest play from a Churchill team ever... The game would end in Cathedral's favor 14-4.
Churchill was for the second time in its' Western's career forced to play in the back bracket for no better than 9th place. The last time this happened was in 2006 when South Eugene beat CHS in the cross-over game in similar conditions. The agony of defeat was palpable and senior's faces were unable to hide their pain.
But, Churchill was unwilling to go home with anything less than 9th. Since 2005, the team has never entered the tournament and taken anything less, and this was not going to be the year to change things.
First round Sunday morning put CHS against Fayetteville, from Arkansas. Churchill came out with guns blazing and didn't look back to see how hard Fayetteville was falling. The game ended 15-9 and was just what CHS needed to get back to the way they knew how to play. The seniors were starting to execute with percision and the supporting cast of underclassmen filled in any holes that were left by their fellow old team-mates.
The semis then put CHS against Eden Prairie, a match-up they hadn't had in a number of years. These MN boys were tall and athletic, but again, Churchill was unwilling to let anyone but themselves determine their final outcome. Churchill struck early and often. The first break would be for Churchill, and going up 8-5 in the first half was exactly what they needed. A brief inter-squad squabble occurred that nearly derailed the Churchill team, but Spencer quickly dosed that fire and got the boys back into seeing who their real opponent was. The second half was much of the same with huge plays coming from Ian who was on the receiving end more times than can be counted from both Andrew and Jordan. Not to be left out, Bofto came up big on some D but was also the first on the field every time a teammate scored. Peter was brilliant with solid O and D, and even ZW got himself labeled a threat by the Eden Prairie team! The game would end 15-9 and Churchill had one last game to finish their season.
The finals would be against Alameda HS who had just pulled off a universe point win over Cretin-Derham Hall. They were tired and our boys were nothing but ready to punish. This game would show how well the Churchill boys could play with one another. Though Ian would stand out often with some huge plays, it was the entire team that made things happen. Not a single player was left out and the combined effort gave them the victory 15-6.
Churchill ended their season 9th at Westerns, and though it was not what they had originally hoped it would be, it was an amazing journey. Only two teams can leave a tournament undefeated on Sunday, and Churchill was one of those teams. Congrats to you boys for a job well done.