Faith and football: Seton Catholic and King’s Way Christian renew their rivalry

The Seton Catholic Cougars brought their flags and their focus to their game with King’s Way Christian on Friday night. Seton Catholic would win 55-34. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Seton Catholic Cougars brought their flags and their focus to their game with King’s Way Christian on Friday night. Seton Catholic would win 55-34. Photo by Mike Schultz

Cougars score eight touchdowns in win over Knights

There was a prayer over the public address system prior to the football game Friday night, a prayer asking for the safety of the players, wisdom for the coaches, and respectful enthusiasm by the fans.

King’s Way Christian and Seton Catholic were about to renew a rivalry on the football field, and this time, all involved wanted to emphasize “friendly” in the term “friendly rivalry.”

“As the two Christian schools, believing in Jesus, it’s a big deal that we do this right,” said Nick Mancillas, the head coach for King’s Way Christian. “We’ve all heard, read, seen rivalries go wrong, go really bad. That’s the thing we are hoping to avoid. There’s no reason this can’t be a healthy rivalry, win, lose, or tie. That’s what we’re looking for.”

The King’s Way Christian Knights traveled less than 2 miles to renew their football rivalry with Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz
The King’s Way Christian Knights traveled less than 2 miles to renew their football rivalry with Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz

Without going into detail, these two faith-based schools have had issues with one another that led to uneasy feelings in athletics. Those issues, officials from both schools hope, are a thing of the past. With the football teams playing each other for the first time since 2019, administrators wanted to use Week 9 of the 2022 high school football season as a fresh start.

Seton Catholic would get the best of King’s Way Christian on Friday night, cruising to a 55-34 victory to claim third place in the Trico League. Both teams have advanced to the Week 10 district playoffs next week.

A pre-game prayer over the public address system was another reminder of two faith-based schools competing against each other in football. Photo by Mike Schultz
A pre-game prayer over the public address system was another reminder of two faith-based schools competing against each other in football. Photo by Mike Schultz

Off the field, there were signs of victory everywhere.

Seton Catholic held an Oktoberfest celebration pregame, with root beer and brats, and invited fans from both teams to enjoy the event together. Rain, heavy at times, did not deter too many people. There is a small set of bleachers on the visitor’s side of Seton Catholic’s stadium, but King’s Way Christian fans lined the sidelines with chairs brought from home. 

A food truck brought the brats during an Oktoberfest celebration that coincided with Seton Catholic’s football game against King’s Way Christian on Friday. Photo by Mike Schultz
A food truck brought the brats during an Oktoberfest celebration that coincided with Seton Catholic’s football game against King’s Way Christian on Friday. Photo by Mike Schultz

The public address announcer, representing Seton Catholic, said the Cougars were very honored and blessed to have the Knights there.

“I think the energy is good. Our fans are engaged. Our students care,” said Jared Valentine, the athletic director at King’s Way Christian. “It’s about taking that energy and directing it in a positive way. We worked with our student government on what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to compete and to do it with respect.”

These schools are, indeed, neighbors. It is less than a 2-mile drive between campuses. Students from both schools have known each other through youth sports for years. 

As far as the coaches are concerned, there is no reason for any ill will toward one another. Dennis Herling of Seton Catholic and Mancillas have never faced each other. That’s right. Both were hired at these schools in the time between the teams last played each other. 

Oh, they still want to win, but they also wish the best of luck to the other.

“It’s like a sibling rivalry,” Herling said. “You want to see them be successful, but at the same time you want to go beat them when you line up against them.”

The two coaches talked before Friday’s game. 

“I congratulated him. It’s a big step for them to qualify for Week 10, as well,” Herling said.

King’s Way Christian shut down its football program following the 2019 season and was not expected to return to varsity football for a few years. School leaders changed their mind. 

King’s Way Christian fans knew to bring their own chairs and umbrellas to this Week 9 rivalry game at Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz
King’s Way Christian fans knew to bring their own chairs and umbrellas to this Week 9 rivalry game at Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz

Today, King’s Way Christian has 39 players on its roster, a huge number considering.

Meanwhile, Seton Catholic has 48 players on its roster. Seton Catholic officials can remember finishing a season with just 12 healthy players. It was not that long ago.

Now, these are two playoff programs.

“Everybody’s about the rivalry. We all get hyped for it,” said Bella Hooks, a senior cheerleader for King’s Way Christian. 

The King’s Way Christian cheerleaders braved the elements to keep school spirit alive Friday night at Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz
The King’s Way Christian cheerleaders braved the elements to keep school spirit alive Friday night at Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz

She, too, has caught the spirit of friendly competition.

“It’s really exciting to be with our rival team again for our final (regular-season) game,” Hooks said. “I’m really excited to see how both of the teams do and I hope for the best for both of them.”

On the field, of course, there is only one winning team.

“This feels so amazing,” Seton Catholic senior Jackson Glassmire said. “My freshman year, we played King’s Way and we got blown out. To come back on my senior night and win, it’s the most amazing feeling. We played so great. I’m so happy.”

He also saluted the Knights.

“Of all the games this season, this had really good sportsmanship on both sides,” Glassmire said. “It’s very refreshing to have a rivalry like this.”

Jacob Williams, a sophomore, scored four rushing touchdowns for the Cougars. He said all the credit should go to his linemen, especially the seniors, his mentors.

And he talked about the rivalry.

“Two private schools, down the street, battling it out. This is the best feeling in the world,” Williams said. “I’ve been excited for this game since the spring. When I heard we were playing in Week 9, I was like, ‘Let’s go!’ I’ve been playing all season for this game.”

Jacob Williams rushed for four touchdowns in Seton Catholic’s 55-34 win over King’s Way Christian. Photo by Mike Schultz
Jacob Williams rushed for four touchdowns in Seton Catholic’s 55-34 win over King’s Way Christian. Photo by Mike Schultz

Sophomore Joe Callerame also scored four touchdowns for the Cougars. He had two touchdown runs, a touchdown catch, and got a scoop-and-score for a defensive touchdown. 

He thanked the seniors for building something special at Seton Catholic. He also is looking forward to a big future with so many young athletes contributing to this year’s success.

Joe Callerame gets the scoop here on a scoop-and-score defensive touchdown for Seton Catholic. Callerame scored four touchdowns Friday night. Photo by Mike Schultz
Joe Callerame gets the scoop here on a scoop-and-score defensive touchdown for Seton Catholic. Callerame scored four touchdowns Friday night. Photo by Mike Schultz

He also was thrilled to be able to perform in front of so many fans, a large student section from his school and a big turnout from King’s Way Christian.

“That was a fun game and a great atmosphere,” Callerame said.

Friday night showcased two playoff-bound, private, faith-based football programs with two fan bases who are embracing this renewed rivalry.

That is an answer to a prayer.

Seton Catholic wants a friendly rivalry with King’s Way Christian. What’s more friendly than a Cougar in an Oktoberfest outfit? Photo by Mike Schultz
Seton Catholic wants a friendly rivalry with King’s Way Christian. What’s more friendly than a Cougar in an Oktoberfest outfit? Photo by Mike Schultz

She said yes

Seton Catholic football coach Dennis Herling had another reason to celebrate Friday night. Soon after his team beat King’s Way Christian, he had a proposal for Tori Lavarco … in front of the whole team. She said yes. 



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Brett
Brett
2 months ago

I was fortunate to have played on two different high school championship teams back in the early 1970s. I was no star but the experience was great…and served me well…far beyond high school. So… I am so happy for these young men going through similar experiences. Back in my day we always had team prayers…it was part of the program…and all good! That is why I was so disappointed when Washington State University fired their head coach…for…kneeling…to say a prayer of thanks…to God. Take care everybody and…God bless you!

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