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Valley Christian comeback attempt comes up short

By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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On paper, the game looked like a blowout waiting to happen.

Winless Valley Christian Academy, still attempting to build a solid football program despite an enrollment of around 100, was facing defending Sacramento Metro Athletic League champion Delta, a small-town powerhouse from Clarksburg, just outside the southwest end of Sacramento.

But what was on paper didn’t matter. What was on the field did.

The Lions came back from a 14-0 deficit but were one extra point short in a 14-13 loss to the Saints at Highlands. Last season, Valley Christian lost to Delta 43-14 and 41-13, but the new-look Lions put up a fight Saturday night.

“The other team was a good team last year, but this year, we’ve got 17 new guys — not a lot of football guys but a lot of good athletes, good sports guys,” Lions coach Todd Conroy said. “We’re trying to get this program off to a good start.”

Newcomer Caleb VanPatten and returning player Nick Norwood combined to rush for 92 yards. VanPatten was isolated on sweep runs while Norwood took charge between the tackles, creating a balance to quarterback Wright Hagerty’s 34 yards rushing and 69 yards passing.

“Caleb VanPatten is a real leader,” Conroy said. “All the kids that we have picked up this year have just been great — the young kids, the seniors, the juniors, all of them.”

Delta used a powerhouse running game. Guard Ray Garcia made holes with pulling blocks for Avory Trejo, who set up Delta’s first score with a 70-yard run, part of his 162-yard performance.

“If we’re going to beat these guys, we’re going to have to stop (Avory Trejo),” Conroy said. “They’ll make adjustments, and we’ll make adjustments.”

Saints quarterback Cory Wallace scored on a 17-yard run to make the score 14-0, but the Lions didn’t back down.

On the ensuing drive, Hagerty completed a key 19-yard pass to Teagan Mowry and then scored on a two-yard plunge.

Valley Christian’s defense caught on to Delta’s one-dimensional offense and made eight tackles for a loss, allowing zero passing yards the entire game and no points in the second half.

The slippery Trejo ran out of running space, and Delta went to fullback Vince Heffington, who ruggedly churned for 156 yards as the Saints ran out the clock.

Valley Christian assembled a 17-play drive mixed with Norwood and VanPatten runs and key Hagerty passes. Hagerty found Mowry for a five-yard score, but the point-after kick was no good.

The Lions had a chance in the final minute, but a deep pass by Hagerty was intercepted by Delta’s Reed Barnes.

Delta 14, Valley Christian 13

Delta                  6   8   0   0 — 14
Valley Christian   0   7   0   6 — 13

Del — Harding 7 run (kick blocked)
Del — Wallace 17 run (Trejo run)
VC — Hagerty 2 run (Norwood kick)
VC — Mowry 5 pass from Hagerty (kick wide)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Delta, Heffington 26-156, Trejo 16-162, Wallace 5-25, Harding 2-7. Valley Christian, Norwood, 12-52, Hagerty 12-34, C. VanPatten 9-40, Heckman 7-27, Roush 4-9, I. VanPatten 1-minus 3.
PASSING — Delta, Wallace 0-3-1, 0. Valley Christian, Hagerty, 8-20-1, 69.
RECEIVING — Valley Christian, Mowry, 4-31, Heckman, 2-28, C. VanPatten, 2-10.