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Article updated: 11/13/2013 5:02 PM
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Aurora Christian getting healthy at right time
 

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Aurora Christian getting healthy at right time
  • Aurora Christian quarterback Austin Bray, pictured earlier this season throwing a pass to wide receiver Brandon Walgren, completed 8 of 11 passes last week against Oregon for 238 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a score.

    Aurora Christian quarterback Austin Bray, pictured earlier this season throwing a pass to wide receiver Brandon Walgren, completed 8 of 11 passes last week against Oregon for 238 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a score. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 

With three more wins in the Class 3A playoffs, Aurora Christian will make history with a third straight state championship.

The Eagles also would go down as one of the more unique state winners. After all, how many teams win a state title with 35-14, 48-6 and 49-0 losses in consecutive weeks heading into the playoffs?

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That is what Aurora Christian did in weeks 6, 7 and 8. Opponents 132, the potential state champs 20? Coaches always talk about their teams peaking as the season goes along, yet the Eagles did the exact opposite.

Of course the Eagles were anything but themselves during that stretch. Quarterback Austin Bray was just one of 10 key players -- many of them two-way starters -- injured and out of the lineup.

"We had 16 or 17 starting positions out," Eagles coach Don Beebe said. "We have 28 players on varsity. We're not Neuqua Valley, we just can't refill those."

Instead, Beebe let his young players get some experience while the veterans healed. In the process he found some players -- like freshman Zach Bosek at fullback -- and now his team is starting to look like its dominating self compared to the rest of the 3A playoff field.

"I understood it," Beebe said. "As the leader of the team I had to be patient, kind of weather the storm and help them to weather the storm and look at the big picture. I told them God's time is perfect, you just need to follow that plan."

Faith is at the core of what Aurora Christian's school is all about, and it has been as important as ever this fall.

"This is my 10th year, and we've never prayed this hard," Beebe said. "Because of that we've got some guys back healthy. I've seen some divine healing going on. I'm a Christian, and I believe in stuff like that and I'm not shy about it and I believe God has done some wonderful things. We might lose next week, it's not going to change how I feel about what God has done."

No. 6 seed Seneca (9-2) is up next. The Fighting Irish will host the 8-3 and 10th-seeded Eagles at 1 p.m. Saturday.

One of Seneca's two losses came 14-6 to Wilmington, the same Wilmington team that lost to Oregon in the first round of the playoffs.

And that's the same Oregon team that Aurora Christian just scored seven straight touchdowns against Saturday night while building a 49-7 lead before bringing in its backups in a 49-20 win.

Will Seneca be different from the rest of the 3A field these past two years? In Aurora Christian's 12 playoff wins during this stretch there have been hardly any teams who can play with the Eagles with final scores of: 49-12, 28-21, 49-14, 41-7 and 42-12 in 2012, and 35-8, 34-21, 48-13, 50-26 and 34-7 in 2011, and 24-3 and 49-20 so far this year.

That's exactly one game out of those 12 closer than 13 points -- and that was against an IC Catholic Prep team that the Eagles already have knocked out in round one this year. Who can match Aurora Christian at this level, especially now that the Eagles are getting healthy again?

"It's an exciting time to see all the starters on the field," said Eagles wide receiver Brandon Walgren, one of those injured players who has returned. "It's big to have them all back."

The Eagles might be getting even healthier, too, with wide receiver/safety Noah Roberts having about a 70 percent chance of playing Saturday, according to Beebe. That leaves tight end/defensive end Jackson Carpenter, linebacker Dan Clapp and outside linebacker Chase Tomney as the players still sidelined, with Tomney the only one of the three for sure out on Saturday.

Beebe said the injuries have helped unite the team.

"When you go through adversity it really draws people together," Beebe said. "I don't care if it's your family, a football team, a school, when you go through those things it draws people together as long as you allow it to. And we don't complain. We don't point fingers, we take ownership and we humble ourselves and say we're going to get back. I think we're getting pretty close to putting it together."

Walgren certainly has put it together in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The senior from Plano threw a 74-yard touchdown pass and returned an interception 98 yards for a score in the first round, then caught 6 passes for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass last week.

"I always knew he had the talent and ability," Beebe said. "I questioned whether he had the 'it' factor to be a big-time player. I think these last few weeks has proved he has it."

Beebe also has been impressed with the freshman Bosek's play. He was on the receiving end of Walgren's 30-yard touchdown pass last week.

"We needed a fullback since all the injuries, and we actually found a fullback," Beebe said. "I may have never known until we got all these injuries. You should see this kid on film. This kid can play."

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