BOCA RATON, Fla. — There was one winner and possibly two losers in the first game Saturday in the Burger King State Champions Bowl Series.
Chris Barr had two touchdown catches and two touchdown runs to lead Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) to a 35-21 defeat of No. 22 Eastside Christian (Sammamish, Wash.). The other loser in the game besides Eastside may be the University of Utah, where Barr has said he plans to sign. He’s already opened up his recruitment in recent weeks, visiting Wisconsin and scheduling a trip Jan. 23 to Rutgers, and his display Saturday certainly won’t stop other schools from pursuing the speedy wide receiver/defensive back.
Barr ran five times for 111 yards and had eight catches for 122 yards. All of his catches were in the first half. Michael Clark scored Trinity’s other touchdown on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. Clark ran for 136 yards on 14 carries.
“Speed probably played a difference,” said Trinity coach Verlon Dorminey. “You fly all the way across the country and you get up and play at noon, which is 9 a.m. their time and in that second half with the heat, it had to be tough on them. Chris had a great ballgame. I was on the sideline before we kicked off and I said, ‘Chris, you have to make some big plays.’ And he did.”
Eastside Catholic quarterback Harley Kirsch, a left-handed junior, threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns.
“Win or lose, this was still the first state championship in Eastside Catholic history,” Kirsch said. “”It’s tough to go out like this, but we had a great season.”
Trinity (12-2) won the Florida 3A state championship and if not for two crucial drops and too many penalties, could have run away with Saturday’s game earlier. The Conquerors’ Javon Hagan had a 59-yard interception return in the second half but fumbled the ball in the end zone, nullifying a potential touchdown. Another near touchdown by the Trinity went for naught when J.C. Flowers dropped an 18-yard pass from quarterback Billy Cobb in the end zone in the first half.
Eastside (13-2), which won the Washington 3A title, struck first, throwing for seven of eight plays and culminating in a 5-yard pass from Kirsch to Hunter Bryant. The biggest play on the drive was a 44-yard pass play from Hirsch to Matt Laris.
Trinity did not wait long to tie it. A minute and 32 seconds later, Cobb connected with Barr on a screen pass and Barr outran the defense 26 yards for a touchdown. Frankie Onate’s point-after made it 7-7.
Barr put Trinity up 14-7 when he combined with Cobb for a 40-yard pass, burning Brandon Wellington, then a 22-yard completion for a touchdown.
Eastside started to add in a few runs and after three straight carries by Addison Hull, Kirsch kept it on fourth down for a yard and a first down at Trinity’s 34. That opened things up and Kirsch floated a pass the next play to Hunter Bryant for 30 yards to the Trinity 3. A play later, Kirsch kept it for the touchdown. With the point-after, it was tied at 14 with three minutes to go in the half. The Crusaders would not score again until only 3:23 remained in the game on a one-handed touchdown catch by Devon Arbis-Jackson.
“Our kids battled,” Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr said. “You can see why we are state champions and you see why we battle every single down. We ran out of a little gas and that third quarter got to us.”
The inaugural event at Florida Atlantic pairs state champions from Washington and Utah against state champions from Florida.