FLAGSTAFF — Chandler Seton Catholic didn’t stop after dominating Show Low in last week’s semifinal. It had one more White Mountains giant to conquer Friday night.
Seton quickly jumped on a team that had shut out eight teams, including the past two in the playoffs, and shocked Lakeside Blue Ridge 28-7 for the Division IV championship at NAU’s Walkup Skydome.
It was Seton’s first football championship since 1997, and the end of two-time defending state champion Blue Ridge’s 28-game winning streak.
Senior quarterback Ryan Bresnahan, who was out six weeks with a broken hand and won his job back by engineering a 28-21 comeback victory over Cottonwood Mingus in the quarterfinals, hooked up with Daniel Garlid for touchdowns of 21 and 46 yards in the game’s first eight minutes.
With Blue Ridge paying attention to Matt Haggerty after he burned Show Low with 11 catches and three TDs in the 42-14 semifinal rout, Bresnahan found Garlid five times for 143 yards in the first quarter alone.
“It’s pick your poison,” Seton coach Rex Bowser said.
This was no shock to Bresnahan and Garlid.
“We just execute our game plan,” said Garlid, who finished with six catches for 149 yards. “We just go out there and do what we have to do and we execute things.”
Last year, Blue Ridge beat Seton 45-14 in the semifinals. Bresnahan used that memory to fuel his passion for this game.
“We came in confident,” said Bresnahan, who was 12 of 21 for 218 yards and gave Seton a 21-7 lead 10 seconds in the second quarter with an 11-yard run on a broken play. “We had no doubt in our minds. We knew we could beat these guys.
“We had unfinished business. Last year, they didn’t get the full us. We had to bring our game.”
Seton’s defense was more surprising than its offense. Three times in the second half, Blue Ridge wasn’t able to convert on fourth down, including a fake field goal.
Blue Ridge usually grounds and pounds teams into submission. It dominated time of possession. It had 20 first downs to Seton’s nine. It ate up the first eight minutes of the third quarter with a long drive that ended on Seton’s 7. It resorted to a couple of trick plays and it had all of its burned out before the final quarter began.
Seton iced the game with 1:32 left after Skyler Hill fumbled on a sack and Conner Kathe scooped it up and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown.
“We tend to be recognized by our offense but our defense, especially in the playoffs, it really stepped up,” Garlid said.
Blue Ridge (14-1) had 316 rushing yards, but only a Hill 1-yard sneak in the game’s first four minutes to show for its points. Nolan Cook led Blue Ridge with 156 rushing yards on 27 carries. But Seton toughed up on fourth downs.
“There was no disbelief for us at all,” Bowser said. “We thought this was a definite possibility.”