Small school football doesn’t present coaches with many options. Ontario Christian’s Scott Hurst uses all of his.
There are 27 players on the roster. None play offense and defense.
“When you have a guy play both ways there is someone behind him who may be a little bit of a drop- off,” Hurst said. “But if you let one guy play each position, he really takes ownership of it. And you don’t have to worry about the fatigue.”
Whatever Hurst is doing in his first season at Ontario Christian, a school with an enrollment of 510 students, it’s working.
With two games remaining in Ambassador League play, the Knights (5-2-1, 3-0) are alone in first place, having defeated both teams that finished ahead of them last season.
The teams that stand between Ontario Christian and its first outright league championship since 2006 are 3-5 on the season, and one of them is 0-3 in league.
Aquinas, a league champion five of the last six years and the team that relegated Ontario Christian to second place four of those years, was defeated handily by the Knights on Oct. 21.
Ontario Christian’s 33-14 win over the class of the Ambassador League arguably was the Knights’ biggest regular-season victory in five years, during which Ontario Christian had produced plenty of postseason wins. Two years ago, the Knights made a run to the CIF-SS East Valley Division final.
Aquinas, however, has long been a thorn in the Knights’ side, relegating them to second place in league in 2005, ’07, ’08 and ’09. Ontario Christian finished third last year, its first in the Ambassador League.
Linfield Christian, fresh off a 2009 CIF-SS championship in a lower division, was second behind Aquinas last year. On Friday, Ontario Christian handed Linfield Christian a larger margin of defeat than it did Aquinas the week before. A 45-20 win represented the Knights’ highest point total of the season.
“We were expecting to go 5-0 in league,” Hurst said. “Our preseason helped us prepare to do that, provided us with a tougher schedule than our league could have. And we were close to winning all our preseason games.”
The Knights lost by three to Don Lugo, a likely playoff team in the Mt. Baldy League, by four to Cerritos Valley Christian, which is undefeated in the Olympic League, and tied Jurupa Valley, which lost by just a touchdown to 10-time defending Sunkist League champion Kaiser two weeks ago.
Ontario Christian is averaging 200 yards per game on the ground while quarterback Craig Bruinsma has passed for 908 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Despite the most difficult nonleague schedule in the league, Ontario Christian is allowing less than 20 points per game.
What’s more, the Knights are young. They’ll return eight starters on each side of the line next season.
And none of them play both ways.