_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION 9 FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME : Valley Christian’s goal achieved, Crusaders rout Silverado to claim school’s third football title


Valley Christian football players, coaches, and cheerleaders celebrate after the team’s rout of  Silverado.


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


When Valley Christian head coach Woodie Grayson was on the coaching staff at Mayfair High, former longtime Monsoons head coach Mike Fitch would say he’s looking for that “perfect game” which is to win all three phases. Following V.C.’s 59-13 conquest over Silverado High in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 9 championship game last Saturday night, Grayson would agree that the Crusaders played the perfect game.

The Crusaders rolled up 408 yards of total offense and held their sixth straight opponent to no more than 14 points. As V.C. was wrapping up the divisional playoffs by yielding 32 points in the past four games, the program won its third divisional football title and first since 1995. This is the first time the Crusaders had played for a divisional crown since 2002.

“We achieved the goal,” Grayson said. “To get these kids to this moment and to watch them seize that opportunity, to play their best game of the year against a quality opponent, probably one of the toughest opponents we’ve played all year…it’s rewarding to see these kids get to enjoy this. The fruits of all of their hard work; to have it pay off for them is just very special.”
The Crusaders, who won their 11th straight game to improve to 12-2 on the season, were paced by junior running back Gianni Hurd, who rushed for a game-high 150 yards on 23 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.

“My emotions are pretty high,” Hurd said. “It’s off the charts.”

His first touchdown turned out to be the eventual game-winner and came nearly five minutes into the second quarter. V. C. had begun its first drive of the stanza at its own nine-yard line. After Hurd gained five yards, plus a six-yard run from junior Bailey Torres, Hurd busted loose for a 74-yard score that put the hosts up 14-7. It was Hurd’s fourth longest

 Valley Christian High junior Darian Green is about to catch a three-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Isaac Joseph early in the third quarter as part of the team's 59-13 win over Silverado High in last Saturday night's California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 9 football championship. It was Green's second reception of the game.

Valley Christian High junior Darian Green is about to catch a three-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Isaac Joseph early in the third quarter as part of the team’s 59-13 win over Silverado High in last Saturday night’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 9 football championship. It was Green’s second reception of the game. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

touchdown run this season. He would also add a one-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it a 52-7 contest. Winning a divisional title was somewhat redeeming for Hurd, who transferred from Lakewood High prior to last season. He said that all of the Lakewood coaches were against Hurd for leaving. But now, Hurd has the last laugh.

“When we came over, a lot of people doubted us,” Hurd said. “They said we were weak and we weren’t going to go far. It just feels good to shut everyone up.”

Defense dictated the first quarter as Silverado, the third ranked team in the division, was held on downs and punted while the Olympic League champions and top ranked team in the division also punted before getting on the board with 1:50 left. Senior quarterback Isaac Joseph tossed a short six-yard pass to junior wide receiver Quory Smith.

The Hawks would knot the score early in the second quarter when Dionzae Nolan sneaked in from a yard out. After that, it was all V.C., which opened up some breathing room midway through the quarter when senior wide receiver Michael Polk caught a 15-yard score from Joseph.

The turning point of the game may have come nearly five minutes later when senior Clay D’Amico booted a 38-yard field goal. On Silverado’s first play from scrimmage after the field goal, senior linebacker Jalen Hines recovered the first of two Silverado fumbles in the stanza. That was followed by a 17-yard touchdown strike from Joseph to senior wide receiver R.J. Van Kampen. All of this happened in a span of 12 seconds.

“We came together,” Hurd said. “The last few games, we were all separate bits and pieces and the defense did their part. But tonight, the offense, defense and special teams all did their part. It was a whole team and the unity and the family.”

The Crusaders were up 31-7 at the half but were still having fits with Silverado signal caller Levi Taylor, who entered the contest with over 3,700 passing yards and 44 touchdowns. In the first half he completed 11 of 21 passes for 121 yards. But he was also limited to four yards on half a dozen carries and in the second half, he would complete three passes while throwing another interception, which was returned by junior defensive back Garret Williams 35 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

“You can’t say anything more,” Grayson said of his team’s defense. “They’ve been great all year and even tonight, they set the table for us. We were able to capitalize more so than we’ve done all year. We took advantage of every turnover and owned the field position. I’m almost speechless at how the guys played. You always hope that they play their best game at the end of the year when it matters the most.”

“Our defense is great,” Hurd said. “We wouldn’t be here without them. Last week our defense won the game, and I have to say that was our CIF [championship] game. But our defense won the championship for us. Not everyone knows our defense well.”

V.C.’s first touchdown of the third quarter was actually set up by a fake punt attempt when D’Amico threw a 23-yard pass to Williams on fourth and six at the Silverado 45-yard line. Four plays later, Joseph added another touchdown pass, this time to junior Darian Green for three yards. The last score of the night for the Crusaders came with 3:38 left in the game when Smith rumbled in from 21 yards out. He would pick up 31 yards on four carries.

Joseph was nearly perfect on this night, completing 11 of 14 passes for 159 yards and did not attempt a pass in the fourth quarter as the Crusaders were up by 38 points heading into the final 12 minutes.

“None of those numbers are earth shattering,” Grayson said of his offensive performance. “So I think it just speaks to how well we played as a team.”

V.C., winners of 11 straight games, will extend it season when it hosts The Bishop’s School on Saturday night in a CIF Division 3-A Regional Football Championship Bowl Game. The Knights, who won the San Diego Section Division 3 championship, enter with a 13-0 mark and have outscored their opponents 635-165. The Bishop’s School has a team of 25 players but is still very prolific with quarterback Jeffrey Jackson throwing for over 3000 yards and 39 touchdowns opposite three interceptions. Hasant Moses-Hillman is the leading ground gainer with 825 yards and 10 touchdowns while Jacob Jackson has caught 54 passes for 1,074 yards and a dozen touchdowns.

“This championship stands out on its own as just a Valley Christian championship,” Grayson said. “This program is a very, very proud program with a rich tradition. To be able to get back on top after so many years removed of where we’re used to being around here is rewarding in its own right.”