Chattanooga Christian’s best season yet ends with semifinal loss

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Christ Prebyterian Academy defenders smother Javoris Havis as he carries the ball during Friday night's TSSAA Division II-AA semifinal at Chattanooga Christian School. CPA won 28-13 to reach the BlueCross Bowl on Dec. 1 at Finley Stadium.

Kaleb Bonastia was the picture of the other end of Friday Night highlights.

The Chattanooga Christian School senior who has been a critical cog in a history-making season was distraught after the Chargers' 28-13 home loss to Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy on Friday.

"I love these guys, and I am so roud of what we accomplished," Bonastia said with tears in his eyes.

Bonastia and this collection of Chargers set a new standard for the program despite Friday's loss in the TSSAA Division II-A state quarterfinals.

"Coach (Phil) Massey has done a great job, and that is a very good football team," said CPA coach Ingle Martin, whose team improved to 8-5 and will soon return to Chattanooga to face Lipscomb Academy (12-0) in the BlueCross Bowl state title game Dec. 1 at Finley Stadium. "Experience is so important in games like this, and our kids responded."

Martin's crew was polished and poised throughout. They had the turnover edge, 4-2, and delivered on third down six times in their four touchdown drives.

"They made a few more plays when they needed to," said Massey, whose team finished 10-3, reaching double digit in wins for the first time in the program's 14th season but his first year leading the Chargers. "When you get in games like this against team like them, turnovers are so important."

CCS answered an early CPA scoring drive with a Javoris Harris touchdown run. CPA returned the scoring favor for a 14-7 halftime lead.

A three-and-out series in the conditions to start the second half hampered the Chargers' plans.

Still, a season-ending loss Friday assuredly can't dampen such a record-setting season.

"I could not be more proud of this team," said Massey, who took over at CCS after a decade and a half at Baylor.

Season-ending accomplishments aside, CPA's midline offense was eventually overpowering Friday night.

Be it first down or fourth, CPA controlled the line of scrimmage when it mattered most.

"That's who we want to be," Martin said.

Still, while the end was bitter, the path was still appreciated.

"These kids have so much to be proud of," Massey said. " This is the what we should strive to be."

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.