Ontario Christian football hopes to climb out of unfamiliar territory

Ontario Christian is only two seasons removed from a trip to the CIF finals. Success of this nature isn’t surprising for a program with one of the longest standing traditions in the Ambassador League.

What is surprising? The Knights have just one league championship over the last nine years outside of their banner season in 2012. Even more surprising? Last year, Ontario Christian missed the playoffs for the first time in at least 15 years.

A new coach, a strong returning nucleus and a promising young quarterback are plenty of reasons to believe this year will begin the Knights’ climb toward their traditional spot near the top of the league. The Ambassador League is deep, but Ontario Christian could benefit from the league’s expected parity.

Sophomore quarterback Kevin Jack will have plenty of support in his first season as a starter. New coach Matt Hoekstra, the Knights’ third coach in as many seasons, brings back last season’s leading rusher, Travis Struiskma along with fullback Blake Biby. Struiskma and Biby are only juniors, giving the Knights a backfield that will be together for two seasons.

Of course, offense wasn’t the Knights’ weakness in 2014. The defense allowed 30 points per game in league play. A 53-48 loss to Arrowhead Christian Academy in Week 7 of last year was the first of three consecutive losses to close out the season. If Ontario Christian can shore up the defense, it figures to have an offense that could carry it a long way.

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