La Jolla Country Day wins 8-man showdown

The field is only 40 yards wide and 80 yards long even though it can be played on a 40 x 100 configuration as they do in Nevada and Montana. The hitting, execution, intensity and sportsmanship, however, is no different than the 11-man version and the 1,200 fans who gathered in the fog Friday night at San Diego's sparkling new Westview High saw the two best 8-man teams in the state mix it up for the San Diego Section 2002 8-Man Championship.

No. 1 ranked Julian brought a 23-game winning streak into the contest in a rematch against No. 2 La Jolla Country Day. The two played in last year's championship, as well as an early season 20-18 decision, both won by the Eagles.

In this year's earlier contest Julian's 6-3, 230-pound running back, Brad Daugherty, ran over the Torres. Although in this game he had 134 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown, his totals were way below his season average. The result was a heart-breaking 21-14 loss to Country Day, which won its second section championship and will likely end the season as the No. 1 8-Man team in the state pending the finish of the Southern Section playoffs.

Being No. 1 in a state is nothing new to first-year coach and AD Jeff Hutzler of the Torres. The teams he worked with at The Meadows School in Las Vegas won an 8-Man (Div 1A) title in 1995 and four additional Silver Bowl titles in 1997-98-99-00 in Div. 2A...and he was largely responsible for a 41-game winning streak before heading to La Jolla Country Day last year.

Earlier in the week Hutzler was asked how he would stop Daugherty and he responded that he intended to bring up his linebackers and gamble by also bringing in the defensive end to attack the line of scrimmage. The plan worked to a charm as Daugherty was constantly being hit behind the line of scrimmage and the fact he gained as many yards as he did is a testament to his strength. "In 8-man the defensive end is the last defense on the corner...you don't have as many backs," Hutzler said. "We contained him well and didn't allow him to get outside."

The runner who did get outside...and inside...and cut back around and past would be tacklers was senior Torre's quarterback Patrick Christy. The 5-8, 136-pound team leader not only rushed for 132 yards but he also passed for 62 yards and caught a 30-yard pass from the team's other quarterback, Andy Jorgensen. Time and time again the elusive Christy pulled the trigger to execute crucial plays to keep drives alive. Proving you don't have to be a 300-pound lineman or a 4.3 sprinter to continue playing past high school, the Torres' signal caller is contemplating offers from Trinity College, Claremont-McKenna and Washington University in St. Louis. The Liberal Arts major was well spoken yet humble in victory. "I owe it all to the offensive line," said a beaming Christy, "They saved my life all year. Without them I wouldn't have done anything."

For his part, Julian coach Scott Munson was upbeat for a coach whose team means everything to a town hit hard recently by fire and a subsequent loss of some tourism. "I'm as proud of this team as last year's," said Munson. "My goal is to make these young men into citizens...the kind of guys you want to have working for you."

His team showed that...leaving nothing on the field. With a controversial touchdown run by Daugherty ruled a fumble in the end zone for a touchback...the Eagles came up just a little short.

With no plans on going to 11-man by either coach, these teams will be slugging it out in 8-man for a long time to come.

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