Notre Dame High School hosted the Catholic Youth Organization Flag Football Championship Nov. 22 in Sherman Oaks, featuring the title game between American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach against St. Philip the Apostle in Pasadena.
St. Philip plays in the competitive Foothill Conference while American Martyrs, the Southbay Conference champions, came in as the No. 1 overall seed.
American Martyrs came into the game as the defending CYO champions and looked to repeat — and they succeeded. But the St. Philip team, having proven themselves in gritty earlier playoff rounds, didn’t make it easy.
Before crowds of supporters for both teams, American Martyrs scored on their opening drive. Their defense stopped St. Philip as they tried to even the score. The teams exchanged possessions during the first half until American Martyrs again got into the end zone to take a two-touchdown lead into halftime.
St. Philip came out strong and scored on its first possession of the second half on a long run play to get within one score. American Martyrs, however, stayed with their game plan and scored again to secure their lead and went on to claim the championship.
Both teams showed great athleticism and good sportsmanship throughout with each team recognizing the other and their supporters afterwards. This was a wonderful example of Catholic character and appreciation by these fine young men and their coaches.
Earlier, perennial football power Holy Trinity of San Pedro faced off against upstart St. Joseph of Long Beach for third place. Holy Trinity finished second to American Martyrs in the tough Southbay Conference, while St. Joseph was on their way to re-establishing their past glory as Southeast Conference Champions.
The game was a tough contest from the kick off with Holy Trinity’s physically imposing team battling the athletic and determined St. Joseph squad. St. Joseph gained the edge in the first half with a modest lead that grew in the second half with crafty plays and stingy defense.
The game was a solid display of football from these two beach teams, as the players competed until the final whistle. St. Joseph came out on top in the end to claim the third place trophy.
The first game on Championship Sunday was the inaugural Invitational Tourney Championship, pitting St. Charles Borromeo of North Hollywood against Good Shepherd of Beverly Hills.
This too was a spirited game with two teams that battled throughout the playoffs to reach the championship game. St. Charles proved to have more firepower this day as they claimed the title game.
“The CYO championships today was a really fun event,” said James McGoldrick, the Catholic Youth Organization director. “The fan support from both schools was very strong and a testament to the impact these playoffs have on our Catholic community and our student athletes. The players gave it their all and showed great sportsmanship in playing like champions.”
The season featured 115 varsity teams to start the season, with 64 qualifying for the playoffs.
McGoldrick thanked the Catholic High Schools that provided field access during the regular season and playoffs, including: Notre Dame, St. Paul, Bishop Amat, Serra, Damien, St. Pius X/St. Mathias Academy, St. Bernard, Salesian, Verbum Dei, Cantwell Sacred Heart and American Martyrs.