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WEEK ONE FOOTBALL Valley Christian handles double wing, pulls away from Cerritos in second half

 Photo credit to : PhotoZoot.com

Photo credit to : PhotoZoot.com

By Loren Kopff

Valley Christian head coach Woodie Grayson knew his team was going to have trouble with the double wing offense that Cerritos runs. Sure enough, the Dons rushed for nearly 300 yards last Friday night at Crusader Field.
But for the second straight week, the Crusader defense buckled down, especially in the second half, and turned a close first half into a convincing 38-14 win. While Cerritos relies on its ground game, V.C. can burn you with senior running back Jonathan Nicholson and junior running back Quaid Kawana, among others, as well as its passing attack with the senior dual threats of Will Brines and Jack Struiksma. Those four accounted for 346 yards of V.C.’s offense..
“The thing with the double wing is you can’t simulate it in practice,” Grayson said. “So, it takes a while to catch up to it and be able to adjust to it in the game. When they had [that turnover], I think it settled us down defensively. Our defensive staff-coach [Kirk] Diego, coach [Brian] Kane, coach [Bill] Garner-they had a great plan and they had those guys ready. Once we adjusted, we executed it pretty well. The double wing is not easy to stop.”
“I’m pleased with where we’re at on things,” said Cerritos head coach Darin Owens. “I think we’ve improved on some stuff from last year. [V.C.] is a very good ballclub. We saw what they did to Duarte, who is favored to win their league, last week. We just have to keep moving forward and keep improving each week.”
The Crusaders, who had split their first two games in six of the past eight seasons, are 2-0 for the first time since 2005 when they won five straight games to begin that campaign.
On V.C.’s first drive of the game, it was senior tight end Kyle Westra who stole some of the thunder. First, he gained six yards on a direct snap on fourth and one from the V.C. 47-yard line. Then he caught his only pass of the game when Brines, on play action, rolled out to his right and found Westra for a 40-yard score. Two plays into the ensuing Cerritos possession, V.C. senior defensive back Chandler Vos recovered a fumble and the hosts took advantage of the opportunity.
In an eight-play drive, four different players all had gains of at least three yards. With 1:27 left in the opening quarter, Westra scored from three yards out, then added a two-point conversion run to make it a 14-0 home advantage.
“Kyle is one of our better tougher runners,” Grayson said. “We had a chance to use him tonight and even though he doesn’t look like he should be a guy that’s running the ball, when he gets the ball in his hands, he’s pretty dangerous.”
The Dons would get to work in typical fashion, closing out the first quarter with three rushing plays, then using the half of the second quarter to finally score their first touchdown of the season. The drive ended when senior quarterback Ki’Jon Washington snuck in from a yard out. Washington gained 43 of his team’s 58 yards on the drive. However, the two-point conversion was failed.
The Crusaders quickly answered back as three plays later, Nicholson, who moments earlier gained 27 yards, scored from 44 yards out to make it a 20-6 affair. It would be the only drive of the second quarter for the Crusaders who had the ball for 8:04 of the first half. Meanwhile, the Dons pounded out 154 yards on the ground in the half with Washington gaining 96 yards on 18 carries and senior running back Kory Boyd adding another 38 yards on six touches.
“The two plays that are the hardest to prepare for are the quarterback sneak and the wedge play,” Grayson said. “That’s just one guy outrunning everybody or all of that beef [of the offensive line] moving everybody. They made some yards off of those things.”
“He’s a go-getter and he did a great job tonight,” Owens said of Washington. “He had a lot of good carries and I was pleased.”
V.C. put the game away with a pair of third quarter touchdowns in a span of 5:18. Struiksma would toss a 29-yard score to senior wide receiver Brian Cok on the opening drive of the stanza. After the Dons punted, Nicholson made it 32-6 with a 20-yard touchdown run, his sixth score of the season. He would end up with 155 yards on 17 carries.
Kawana capped off V.C.’s scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter as he went untouched for a 30-yard gain while Boyd scored the second Cerritos touchdown over four minutes later when he went in from 45 yards.
“Right now the biggest thing is we have to get our defense to complement our offense,” Owens said. “That’s our struggle. If we can get that rolling, watch out. That’s the whole point right now. But I was pleased overall with our performance.”
Westra would also have a big defensive game as he led everyone with 12 tackles, 10 of which he assisted on. Senior linebacker Garrison Coley had a part in eight tackles while Cok added seven tackles. Senior defensive back Kent Running had half a dozen solo tackles as the Crusaders will visit Ocean View tonight, the first of three straight road games.
“We have a saying around here, what’s better than 1-0, obviously 2-0,” Grayson said. “Right now, it’s what’s better than 2-0? They’re thinking 3-0. They’re not thinking any farther than that.”
The Dons will entertain city and ABC School District rival Gahr tonight for their home opener. Cerritos has lost nine straight to the Gladiators and have been blanked by Gahr the past two seasons.
“I’m not even there mentally right now,” Owens said. “I just hope we do well and we improve this week. That’s all I care about.”

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