Senior staff writer
Only one win away from its 12th state championship football game, 4A No. 1 Roncalli faces a familiar foe in a semistate battle Friday night.
The traveling Rebels (13-0) visit No. 7 East Central in St. Leon at 7 p.m. for the 12th time and the third time in semistate action.
Roncalli has not lost a game since losing to East Central 21-0 last last year, the time the Rebels had been shut out since 2008.
Roncalli defeated East Central in 2002 and 2003 in the semistate as the Rebels marched to back-to-back state championships. From 2008-13, Roncalli and East Central closed the regular season against each other. Roncalli leads the series 7-4.
The Rebels spotted visiting Delta a 7-0 lead Friday as the Eagles completed a 67-yard touchdown pass that Roncalli coach Bruce Scifres labeled as “a wake-up call.”
The host Rebels responded immediately with a seven-play, 62-yard drive that was capped by Derek O’Connor’s 1-yard TD run. Roncalli stopped the Eagles on downs and scored on a 31-yard touchdown strike from O’Connor to Jacob Fryar.
The rout was on as the Rebels rolled to a 42-7 for the school’s 14th regional championship.
The Rebels rushed for 306 yards. Kenny Gillum gained a career-high 186 yards on 17 carries for two TDs, and Patrick McManama picked up 71 yards on six carries for two scores.
Roncalli’s defense limited the Eagles (8-5) to 66 yards on the ground.
Roncalli and East Central have one common opponent, Bishop Chatard. The Rebels defeated Chatard 21-14, but the Trojan defeated East Central 20-7.
East Central won the 4A state championship in 1999, the same year that Roncalli won its last 3A title. The Rebels have won eight state championships, the last one in 2004.