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Valley Christian spots foe big lead, comes up short

By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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No matter how hard they try, Valley Christian Academy just can’t seem to get a win. The Lions’ 33-26 loss to Woodland Christian on Saturday was a prime example of how frustrating a winless season can be.

After trailing 19-0 at halftime, the Lions (0-6, 0-5 Sacramento Metro Athletic League) outscored the Cardinals 19-8 to pull themselves back into the game. Quarterback Wright Hagerty transformed into a high school version of Tim Tebow, running for four touchdowns in the second half.

“I told them at halftime that I was disappointed in them,” Lions coach Todd Conroy said. “I really did. I had to pull out the bad coach card. We came back out with an intensity that was amazing. It’s too bad … another play or two and it would have been different. Just another one of those games.”

Woodland Christian scored early in the fourth quarter on a six-yard run by Tyler Deven, who ran for a whopping 266 yards and four touchdowns. A failed two-point conversion kept Valley Christian within striking distance, and after a solid drive topped by Hagerty’s final touchdown, they were a touchdown and an extra point away from tying the score.

But on fourth and two at midfield, Hagerty dropped back to pass, scrambled and eyed the first-down marker but was barely tripped by a hustling Brandon Brooks, who brought the Lions’ hopes to an end with 2:42 remaining. Woodland Christian ran out the clock to seal its second win over the Lions this season. The Cardinals won the opener 38-28 on Aug. 26.

The sudden rise in offensive efficiency in the second half was a positive for the Lions, but a miniscule run defense took back any advantages. Deven’s impressive showing came thanks to a strong right side of the Woodland Christian line, which featured Brooks and often tight end Chase Canevari. All of Deven’s touchdowns went through that side, revealing an obvious Achilles’ heal for the Lions.

“The biggest problem is that the coaching staff is really going to have to rally around film and see what’s wrong with the personnel in those areas,” Conroy said. “We keep working and doing defensive shifting. We didn’t do a lot of it, but when we did we stopped them. We need to go back to that.”

Valley Christian has three games remaining, and Conroy hopes the team can salvage its dignity by the end of its run.

“They keep showing that intensity in the second half,” Conroy said. “They’ve shown it in other games, too. Our biggest thing is to come out prepared and not give out points in the first half. If we can come out in the first quarter and stop that one big play, that’s all it takes.”

Valley Christian’s program continues to be a work in progress, as youth flag leagues are just starting up in the area. Conroy continues to work on building the program, starting with young talent.

Junior Caleb VanPatten, who led the team with 137 yards rushing, will return next season. Junior Teagan Mowry, who led the team with 47 yards receiving, also will be back. Vocal center Nick Ruth and physical linebacker/running back Nick Norwood will return. Conroy hopes the pieces can finally come together and create a winning club.

“We’re trying to initiate our strength program,” Conroy said. “We talked about it last year, and we’re really going to go heavy with it this year. The biggest thing is getting our juniors and our sophomores on board.”

Woodland Christian 33, Valley Christian 26

Valley Christian          0     0 19   7--26
Woodland Christian   7   12   8   6--33

WC – Deven 51 run (Zoldak kick)
WC – Deven 32 run (kick blocked)
WC – Canevari 20 pass from Castaneda (pass failed)
VC – Hagerty 13 run (run failed)
VC – Hagerty 1 run (Norwood kick)
WC – Deven 49 run (Morehart pass from Castaneda)
VC – Hagerty 2 run (run failed)
WC – Deven 6 run (pass failed)
VC – Hagerty 1 run (Norwood kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING – Valley Christian, VanPatten 17-137, Hagerty 14-35, Norwood 8-22, Roush 4-minus 23. Woodland Christian, Deven, 23-266, Stocking 10-33, Castaneda 6-22, Vithayaveroj 2-8.
PASSING – Valley Christian, Hagerty 9-20-1, 85. Woodland Christian, Castaneda 8-18-0, 76.
RECEIVING – Valley Christian, Mowry 2-47, VanPatten 3-minus , Norwood 1-16, Roush 1-14, Woodside 1-5. Woodland Christian, Canevari 3-46, Arnold 1-13, Cearley 1-9, Rodegerdts 1-5, Morehart 1-3, Stocking 1-0.