More known for its grind-it-out running attack, the Westminster Christian football team decided to air it out on Friday afternoon.
And thanks to a terrific performance from quarterback Christian Matos, that proved to be the winning formula as Westminster, hosting Chaminade-Madonna in a showdown for the District 8-3A championship, got the job done as as the Warriors prevailed 28-18 to clinch their third consecutive district title.
Matos proved to be the catalyst as he completed 13 of 19 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns, three of them to Elbre Gaiter IV.
“It was just a matter of staying calm and just doing what the coaches tell you to do out there,” Matos said. “I’ve been in this system for a year now and a lot more comfortable. If they put it on my shoulders to put the ball in the air, then that’s what I do. This was a big win for us, a third straight district title in a row and we just want to keep it going.”
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Perhaps the biggest of Matos’ 19 throws on Friday came late in the third quarter. With WC clinging to a 14-12 lead and facing a third-and-13 at the Chaminade 43, he rifled a perfectly thrown ball right over the middle to Gaiter IV who was running a slant and split two Lions defenders and raced to the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown to make it 21-12.
Following a Chaminade three-and-out, Matos took his offense down the field on a 69-yard, eight play drive where he hit Gaiter IV again from 10 yards out to make it 28-12 with 7:21 to go. The key play on the drive was a perfectly thrown ball down the right side to John Raine for 27 yards on third-and-12 from their own 43 to keep the drive going.
I just took what the defense game me on that play,” said Matos of his big 43-yard strike. “Elbre was the primary receiver and I just threaded it over the middle and he did the rest.”
After Chaminade took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a 38-yard Shaun Shivers touchdown run, Matos brought his team right back as the Warriors put together a monster 80-yard, 15 play drive and hit Gaiter IV for a seven-yard score on third-and-goal to put WC up 7-6.
After the Lions (5-1, 2-1) punted, it took the Warriors just four plays to go 75 yards, the payoff a perfectly thrown ball by Matos over the middle to Raine for a 38-yard score putting Westminster (6-1, 3-0) up 14-6 at the half.
Chaminade gathered a lot of momentum early at the start of the second half when the Lions put together an 80-yard scoring drive, quarterback Kole Stealy finding Shivers for a 23-yard scoring pass to cut the WC lead to 14-12 after a failed two-point conversion.
Then, following a Westminster three-and-out and 28 yard punt return, the Lions were set up at the Warrior 38 poised to take the lead.
But then came the biggest defensive play of the day when, on fourth-and-four at the 32, Westminster linebacker Jeremy Passmore was waiting for Lion receiver Xavier Williams on a swing pass in the flat and stuffed him for a four-yard loss.
Three minutes later, Matos hit Gaiter IV with the big 43-yard strike.
“I tell my kids everyday, finish, effort and attitude,” said Westminster coach Sedrick Irvin. “If you wake up with a good attitude, give all the maximum effort you’ve got and you finish your day like you’re supposed to, you’ll have a shot. I always tell the kids, it’s not about the other team, it’s always about what we do. If we come out execute, play with discipline and toughness, do the little things right, we can play with anybody and you saw that out there today.”