Sean Porter’s job as head football coach at Camp Kilpatrick High does not end when the final horn sounds. In some respects, it just begins.
And Porter had his hands full when the clock expired Friday in the Southern Section Division X championship game at Valley College. His team, composed of juvenile offenders, had come so far both on the field and off.
But the Mustangs dropped a 13-7 decision to Montclair Prep, with the final six points coming on a 21-yard reverse by Ed Cibrian on third and 13 with 1 minute 14 seconds left in the third quarter. The win gave Montclair Prep (10-3) a nine-game winning streak and its first championship since 1976.
Perhaps, losing on a reverse seemed appropriate for Camp Kilpatrick because so many of Porter’s players are attempting to move their lives in another direction.
“Hold your heads high,” Porter said to his team. “You met the challenge and had nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not telling you to like this, but to understand this. Only champions play in the championship game.”
Many of the Mustangs sobbed as they watched the Mounties accept the championship trophy, while Porter continued to coach.
“We’re not here to build a football program, we’re here to build people,” he told reporters. “Our kids need to get the most from this experience.”
That became increasingly difficult as Friday’s game progressed. Camp Kilpatrick (9-4-1) came up empty after driving to Montclair Prep’s six-inch line in the first half, and the Mustangs fumbled a punt with 2:10 left that would have given them one last drive.
Montclair Prep scored the first time it touched the ball when Kimo Atkins (83 yards in 19 carries) fielded a punt at his 35 and ran untouched for a touchdown with 9:19 left in the first quarter.
Four minutes later, Camp Kilpatrick’s Rayford Watts recovered an Atkins fumble and ran 10 yards for a touchdown. Rafael Sarabia’s conversion kick tied the score, 7-7, midway through the first quarter.
Montclair Prep also fumbled on its next drive and Ross Maseuli recovered at the Mounties’ 37. Six plays later Camp Kilpatrick had first and goal inside the one-yard line but could not score. A motion penalty pushed the Mustangs back to the five, and Montclair Prep allowed only three yards in the next four plays and took over on downs.
Later in the quarter, Montclair Prep drove to Camp Kilpatrick’s 22. But a 40-yard field goal by Cibrian was blocked as the half ended.
The Mounties, who lost three fumbles, came up with the winning score after John Goldbaum intercepted a pass that was deflected by Donovan Roy, giving them possession at Camp Kilpatrick’s 18 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
On third and 13 from the 21, Atkins took a handoff from Mike Lincavage and handed to Cibrian, who had carried only seven times this season, but ran untouched into the end zone.
“That play was the difference and from then on we played great defense,” Montclair Prep Coach George Giannini said.
Camp Kilpatrick, which was limited to minus-12 yards in the second half, could not mount a serious threat thereafter.
Sophomore running back Eliel Swinton, who entered the game with 1,716 yards rushing, carried only once for three yards for Montclair Prep because of a hamstring injury.