The 2008 Santa Margarita Eagles used a new passing oriented attack along with some big plays on special teams to set numerous individual school records, but the demands of a schedule that included 8 playoff teams had the young squad settling for a 3-7 record.
The season started with a tough road game at nationally ranked St. Bonaventure as Gavin Escobar’s 130 yards receiving and Troy Willett’s 14 tackles were not enough to overcome the high powered Seraphs in a 35-14 loss. The following week the Eagles went on another long road trip, but this time it ended well as they stopped Poway’s 25-game winning streak with a commanding 42-20 win to even their record at 1-1. In that game Ryan World threw for 337 yards and tied Carson Palmer’s school record with five touchdown passes while senior linebacker Steven Steinmetz posted 21 tackles to spearhead a great defensive effort. The following week in the Eagles’ home opener, Foothill came from behind in the fourth quarter to come away with a heartbreaking 30-26 win. Senior all-purpose player AJ Cruz entertained the crowd with a thrilling 50-yard punt return touchdown and a key interception, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a determined effort by the visitors. In week 4, the Eagles once again traveled to San Diego County to take on a powerful La Costa Canyon squad. The game was a tight battle and with the Eagles behind 14-12 with only 1:33 left World led the team on a 10-play, 84-yard drive capped by a 23-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Logan Sweet with 16 seconds left to pull out a 18-14 win and even the Eagles record at 2-2. With 303 yards passing World had reached 1,000 yards passing in only four games. Tyler Wallace led the defense with an impressive individual performance as he registered 13 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception. The Homecoming Game in Week 5 proved to be a disappointment as highly ranked Chaparral raced ahead to a 35-10 lead before holding on for a 42-31 win. Spencer Tyson thrilled the crowd with a 58-yard touchdown run and Gavin Escobar tied his season-high with seven receptions while Morgan Viar’s 14 tackles led the defense.
At this point the Eagles were 2-3 in non-league play heading into a tough road match up with undefeated St. John Bosco. The Braves, led by standout QB Keith Price rolled to a convincing 47-21 win despite the heroics of AJ Cruz. Cruz set a school record with his 97-yard kickoff return and rushed for 64 yards while catching two passes and posting eight tackles. His second return touchdown of the season tied a school mark. Troy Willett’s 13 tackles and Gavin Escobar’s two receiving touchdowns were not enough to pull off the upset as the Eagles record fell to 2-4. Despite 295 yard passing and three touchdown passes from Ryan World the Eagles fell 39-19 to the Servite Friars to drop to 2-5 and 0-2 in Trinity League play. Other solid efforts were put in by Andrew Spangenberg (eight tackles) and Sean Willet (seven receptions and a touchdown). The following week the Mater Dei Monarchs posted an opponent-record for points scored in a disappointing 57-28 loss that put the Eagles streak of consecutive seasons in the playoffs (currently at 13 years) in jeopardy. Logan Sweet’s 50-yard touchdown reception and 91- yard kickoff touchdowns along with Sean Willet’s 84-yard receiving score were offset by three turnovers and the Monarch’s balanced attack. Sweet’s 201 yards in kickoff returns set a school record and Emmett O’Brien’s 10 tackles led the defense. In week 9 Orange Lutheran ended the Eagles slim playoff hopes in a 49-24 win. Spencer Tyson’s two touchdowns and Greg Beaudoin’s 146 yards receiving and 51-yard score provided a little spark, but the Lancers rolled to 510 yards of offense to seize control of the game early. An emotional Eagle squad took the field in Week 10 and registered a 22-14 win over South County rival JSerra. Spencer Tyson’s career-high 127 yard rushing and Logan Sweet’s 63-yard receiving touchdown while a 50-yard interception return by Jack Cranston highlighted the Eagles best defensive performance in several weeks.