Flash Staff Report
(December 2, 2017) — Stephenville FAITH won its seventh consecutive homeschool football championship Saturday, its first in Division I of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations, or TAIO.
The Knights were as dominant as they have been all season, defeating the Titans of Lubbock Homeschool 64-18. The game was called early in the fourth quarter, when the Knights pushed their lead to 46. Six-man games end early if a team leads by 45 or more at or after halftime.
Ashton Breeding of the Knights was named Defensive MVP of the championship while do-it-all spread back Travis Loper was named offensive MVP.
The Knights scored twice in the first quarter while blanking the Titans, ensuring they would play from a familiar position – well ahead. A 24-18 second-quarter advantage left them leading 38-18 at intermission, a close game by the Knights’ standards.
Defensive adjustments head coach Nick Braun were executed well by Breeding and the troops on that side of the ball, while Loper continued to be his elusive self on offense after halftime. FAITH outscored Lubbock Homeschool 20-0 in the third, and the game was brought to a halt when the Knight scored again early in the fourth.
Loper caught a TD from Breeding and connected with Zane Cole on a 40-yard TD pass in the fist quarter. Lope-to-Breeding, an aerial hookup covering 29 yards for a touchdown , was followed by a two-point conversion made it 22-0 in the opening minute of the second quarter.
After an exchange of defensive stops, Cole took a 10-yard pass from Loper and a conversion gave the Knights 30 points before the Titans finally got something going.
Kaleb Thornton found the end zone on a 8-yard run and a conversion brought the Titans, playing some 7 hours from home in Bryan, within 30-8.
Loper went to Nate Braun with his fourth TD pass, a 22-yarder, then Breeding intercepted a Lubbock pass to thwart a potential scoring drive.
Except it backfired when the Knights went backwards and were tackled in the end zone, a safety to make it 38-10 and force them to kick it back to the Titans. Slayde Appleton took advantage with a 8 yard TD catch from Spencer Appleton, the brothers teaming up to bring the Lubbock squad within 20.
Frustrated to allow the Titans to grab some momentum in the second quarter, the Knights made sure that would not continue.
Loper fired TD pas number six to Breeding, a 9-yard effort for a 44-18 lead, and it was quickly followed by a Cole interception to set up his own TD catch covering 15 yards and stretching the lead to 50-18.
Loper was in beast mode at quarterback with TD eight going to his favorite target, Breeding, from five yards out, and the game moved to the fourth quarter with the only thing left to determine being the final score.
The Titans started the fourth with the ball thanks to a fumble recovery by their top defensive player, Tae Thompson. It didn’t matter as FAITH stopped them on downs at the Lubbock 33, then drove to the one, where Loper tossed the game-ending TD, his ninth, to, guess who, Breeding.
The Knights won their quarterfinal contest 50-0 over BVCHEA Home School, and their semifinal 64-16 over Wiliamson County Home School before completing an undefeated season. The only scare to their perfect record came from Iredell, a good UIL team. The Dragons led he Knights by two scores early in the fourth quarter, but FAITH came back to win 65-62.
FAITH and Lubbock Homeschool played in the regular season, too, with the Knights winning 103-55, because the Titans scored enough to keep the deficit below 45 until late in the fourth quarter. Because the mercy rule halts most their lopsided wins, it was the first time the Knights reached triple figures in the eight-year history of their program.
It took FAITH only one season to learn how to win in what was then the Texas Christian Athletic League. They made the playoffs that year, but weren’t quite post season ready. The next year the likes of Shad Cole, Jared Veldhuizen and Daniel Winkler led the way to the first of what is now seven consecutive state titles.
FAITH has always been in Division II of the TCAL and now TAIAO, but this year, they were the top half of playoff teams in terms of high school participation. Athletic director Rod Cole believes the Knights will be back in Division II next year.
It appears, though, that it will take more than the number of the division to change for someone in the TAIAO to come close to challenging the Knights, more dominant than ever, with the number of fingers availible to show how many titles they have won beginning to run out.