by Chris Hunt
With nine seconds remaining in SouthLake Christian Academy’s season finale against Forsyth Country Day last week, the Eagles’ offense was 10 yards from winning their eighth game of the season. Down 23-20, the victory slipped away when quarterback Sam Remick’s pass deflected off receiver Travis Hallman’s outstretched hands and fell into the arms of a Forsyth defender in the end zone.
With the heartbreaking loss, SouthLake fell from a possible fourth seed to a sixth seed in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II playoffs. The Eagles (7-4, 3-3 Carolina Piedmont Football Conference) also lost a shot at a home game in the first round and are now forced to travel to Fayetteville and face No. 3 seed Trinity Christian (6-2).
While Eagles coach Rich Landis said it was a quiet bus ride home, an impromptu Saturday morning walk-thru practice rejuvenated the squad. Landis said the Eagles had played with confidence all season and preferred to focus Saturday’s time on the 65-yard drive in the final minutes that put his team in scoring position instead of the final play against Forsyth Country Day. Remick agreed with his coach’s approach.
“The loss to Forsyth Country Day is fuel because we are ready to go this week,” said Remick. “It would have been different if we were blown out. I think the loss will motivate the whole team and propel us to win.”
The Trinity Christian Crusaders are in their first season of 11-man football after dominating the eight-man level for the past three seasons, during which they won 37 consecutive games.
Landis said the Crusaders are loaded with athleticism and size, including six players weighing more than 230 pounds – two tipping the scales over 285 pounds. They also have two talented running backs in juniors Andrew and Jay Brown. The Crusaders threw just 17 passes in their first seven games.
The Eagles’ advantage lies in its depth. SouthLake boasts nearly 40 players, while Trinity fields just 21 players, with many playing both ways.
“(This is) one of those games where you are thankful they play four quarters,” said Landis. “I think we can get some things accomplished against their depth of athleticism and size.”