By MIKE McCOMBS
COLUMBIA — Saturday was a big step for the John Paul II football program. Unfortunately, it may not feel that way for the Golden Warriors.
Florence Christian School (9-2) put John Paul II away easily, 49-6, in the SCISA Class 2A championship at Charlie Johnson Stadium at Benedict College.
“I think it feels a lot worse than it really is. When you wake up, the sun is still going to come up tomorrow,” Golden Warriors head coach Kevin Wald said. “We’ve got a lot of experience coming back next year. There’s only two teams playing today.
“You’re certainly not happy to lose, who would be? You play the game to win, and we didn’t get it done today. But a lot to look forward to in the future. We’ll take a couple days off and right after Thanksgiving, we’ll regroup and start working toward next year.”
Wald was coaching in his first state championship game in just his third season at the school. The Warriors (7-5) are just two years removed from a winless season.
Still, Wald said, given the stable of backs the Warriors had, as well as a solid line, he could sense this year may be special.
“I told the guys, you’ve got to keep fighting and keep grinding and hope it all comes together,” Wald said. “And it came together against Greenwood Christian and then today, I think we had a little bit of jitters to start the game. I think we were in a little bit of awe of the moment and we never settled into a flow. We got punched in the mouth up front early and were never really able to respond.”
Eight plays into the game, the Eagles had three touchdowns and the rout was on.
The Wariors were held to negative rushing yards and the Warriors’ only score came on a 61-yard touchdown connection from Sam Summa and Rashad Battiste just before the half.
“I certainly thought they could beat us,” Wald said. “They added a couple wrinkles and executed. We added a couple of wrinkles like the wheel route to Melik (Frost) there early and couldn’t connect, a couple of plays in the game that could have changed the momentum.”
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