The Desert Chapel Eagles are hosting Joshua Springs in the eight-man Division 2 championship game on Saturday.
They are the top two teams in the bracket and both teams are used to winning titles, so logic would dictate that it should be a good game. But there is a huge elephant in the room when talking about this matchup. The two teams played on Oct. 9 and Joshua Springs won by the remarkable score of 90-8.
Eagles coach Jim Donaldson said it’s impossible not to remember that game, but the team isn’t dwelling on the difficult task that lays in front of them.
“That game is something we can’t focus on and think too much about,” Donaldson said. “Yeah, we got blown out, but we have to focus on what we do, which is try to give a perfect effort on every play. Every series. If we do that. We can compete and feel good about how we’ve played.”
In the previous game, the Eagles (11-1) had six turnovers, and the score got out of hand quickly.
Desert Chapel isn’t alone. The Lightning are unbeaten and have defeated their opponents by an average score of 63 to 17. Yes, that’s right, they average 63 points per game.
However, Desert Christian Academy, a team Desert Chapel defeated, hung with Joshua Springs deep into the game during last week’s semifinal before losing just 34-20. It was the first time Joshua Springs was held under 50.
“Joshua Springs is a great team with a good system and they’ve been good for a long time,” Donaldson said. “So we need to just compete our best and keep competing no matter what the score is. We are going to play hard to the end.”
The two programs have an amazing championship pedigree. With the exception of 2006, either the Eagles or Lightning have won a title every year since 2004. Joshua Springs has won five of the past six titles — winning last year, losing in the title game in 2013 and winning four in a row before that.
Desert Chapel beat Joshua Springs 48-20 for the title in 2008, and also took home championships in 2004 and 2005.
“Any time you’re in a championship game, it’s exciting, and this is no different,” Donaldson said. “We’re going to go in prepared and do everything we can to win.”
WHAT TO EXPECT
Joshua Springs (12-0) at Desert Chapel (11-1): If you just looked at these two teams’ previous box score, you’d think this game wouldn’t be a close contest, but high school football can be funny. Desert Christian Academy, a team Desert Chapel defeated handily earlier this season, took Joshua Springs down to the wire a week ago, even though the Lightning demolished the Eagles 90-8 in the regular season. The closest Joshua Springs has come to losing was just a week ago. Could they be ripe for an upset? Crazier things have happened.
THIS WEEKEND’S SCHEDULE
Palm Desert at Serrano, 7 p.m.
Oak Hills at La Quinta, 7 p.m.
Joshua Springs at Desert Chapel, 7 p.m.