Above: Maranatha’s Danny Beckwith expects great things for the 2009 season. He also knows St. Margaret’s is the one obstacle his team has not been able to get by in the playoffs for the past three seasons. (Keith Birmingham / Staff Photographer)
ST. MARGARET’S FOILED TITLE HOPES FOR MARANATHA IN PAST THREE YEARS
By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
It was a cold December night. The rain showed no signs of letting up.
Nobody expected the harsh conditions would prove to be a bad omen for the Maranatha High School football team playing in its first CIF-Southern Section Division XIII championship game against St. Margaret’s.
What should have been a glorious Saturday night for the Minutemen nearly three years ago was the beginning of agony and defeat.
That it came on the last play of the game against a would-be nemesis only made the loss that much more difficult to swallow.
Danny Beckwith, only a freshman at the time and brought up to varsity during Maranatha’s late run, remembers that game as if it happened yesterday.
He handled the loss with poise, despite a sting that lingers to this day.
But it was necessary for Beckwith to learn from it and move on.
He has but hasn’t moved on.
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“Losing to St. Margaret’s the last three years has built our character,” Beckwith said. “It made us stronger, but, oh yeah, it’s something I actually still think about.
Since then, Beckwith endured seasons when Maranatha’s football team advanced to the quarterfinals and semifinals and lost each time to St. Margaret’s.
He’s aware this is his last chance to earn that elusive ring.
Though history has a way of repeating itself, Beckwith is determined to not let it happen.
It’s that same attitude he had after an ouster in the Division VI baseball championship game two years ago.
Ironically, that loss came in similar fashion – last play of the game, only this time it wasn’t the fourth quarter but the bottom of the ninth.
Beckwith shook off the loss and came right back his junior year with sheer determination to lead the Minutemen to a Division V championship.
He hopes that kind of success soon transcends to football.
Maranatha got off to a rocky start last week in falling 20-14 to Linfield Christian.
That result, however, is not indicative of the Minutemen’s talent this season, when Beckwith hopes the Minutemen can get over the final hurdle and claim the program’s first football title.
They’ll have to prove it week in and week out, beginning at 7 Friday night against crosstown rival La Salle.
Despite last week’s uncharacteristic result, Beckwith didn’t panic.
Why would he?
He hadn’t before and sure wasn’t about to do it now.
It’s not hard to figure out where Beckwith draws inspiration and gets his cool and calm demeanor.
His father, Jon, and mother, Lori, both played an integral part in how Beckwith handles victory and defeat.
Lori may have appeared calm but she still grew anxious when Beckwith, as a sophomore, was called on to play quarterback in Maranatha’s second game of the season. It was ironic that it came against St. Margaret’s.
Within the first five minutes of the game, starting quarterback Matt Schilz went down with a knee injury. Three minutes later, Alex Clash, the backup, also went down with a knee injury. Both were out for the season.
The Minutemen went on to lose, 56-14, and it didn’t get any better in quarterfinals that year in a 49-7 loss to the Tartans. Then came last year, Maranatha steamrolling opponents without mercy before St. Margaret’s slapped them with a dose of reality in a 63-0 defeat.
So you can see why Beckwith would define a win over St. Margaret’s as “the best moment in my life.”
He may not show it or talk about it much, but he does often think about it.
“People say I should have had two or three CIF rings by now,” Beckwith said. “I think about it all the time, and what’s most frustrating is that both in football and baseball we lost them at the end of the game.”
Jon is the public address announcer for baseball and football, so he’s not only had to endure every game but has also had to call them – with his voice always projecting objectivity.
“It’s something that’s been a real thrill,” he said. “I have friends who have sons who are not interested in sports and I’m blessed to have one who is good at two.”
Beckwith was 8 years old and riding in the back seat on his way to his first Little League game when his mother grabbed his hand and began praying with him.
Since then, Beckwith prays before each game.
Whether he’ll get a chance to do the same come another cold winter night in December remains to be seen.
Regardless, Beckwith stands ready as ever to confront whatever comes his way.
Win or lose.
Rain or shine.