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WEEK THREE FOOTBALL – Valley Christian’s stingy defense, Brown’s second half rushing puts away Beckman


VALLEY CHRISTIAN High senior running back John Nelson has an open hole to gain some yardage as Beckman High’s Aiden Fordyce hopes to get in on a tackle. Nelson rushed six times for 29 yards, all in the first half, as the Defenders knocked off Beckman 26-7 last Friday. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


Through all the craziness, unexpected and unpredictable events that COVID-19 has placed upon everyone for the past year and a half, a shining moment seems to emerge almost every day. Valley Christian High junior running back Major Brown lived through his shining moment last Friday night when the Defenders hosted Beckman High.

On his first carry of game, which came 88 seconds into the second half, Brown scrambled 38 yards for a touchdown. After that, he would rush eight more times and finished the contest with a game-high 115 yards as the Defenders pulled away from the Patriots in the second half to earn a 26-7 that was more defensive-oriented.

But back to Brown, who lived in California until he was a sophomore, then moved to Coeur d’Alene, ID because his parents were at risk once the pandemic began, and they didn’t want to be in California with as many people. Brown came back about a month ago because his parents run a restaurant in Lakewood and with everything reopening and the numbers going down, they were able to come back. He said that choosing V.C. was a no-brainer.

“Our coaching staff is really good in helping me,” Brown said. “They take their time and they helped me learn everything and go over the plays. This school is amazing, and I’m really blessed to be here.”

“The family is a local family, but they left last year due to Covid to get a full season in, and they came back,” said V.C. first-year head coach Kevin McCarthy. “The only reason why he hasn’t played more earlier is because he’s only been here a couple of weeks.

“He was outstanding [tonight],” he continued. “He’s obviously got that burst of ability. You get through the first level and then he’s off and running, and there aren’t very many high school players that can run with him. He took the opportunity and made the best of it.”

No one was sure how the Defenders would respond after having to cancel their game the previous week at Crean Lutheran High because of Covid issues. The last time they had been in action was Aug. 26 when they blanked Santa Rosa Academy 45-0 and early on, they were a bit rusty on both sides of the ball. After a punt and an interception on its first two possessions, V.C. got on the scoreboard when freshman running back Josiah Apisala went in from 18 yards out with 1:48 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point would be unsuccessful and neither team would find the endzone the remainder of the half.


Valley Christian High freshman running back Josiah Apisala picks up some of his 45 yards last Friday night in a 26-7 victory over Beckman High. Apisala rushed for just five times but scored on an 18-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.



“It’s rough, sometimes changing from completely preparing for one game and then transitioning into completely preparing for another game,” McCarthy said of the unexpected week off. “I think the boys handled it as well as they possibly could. Our coaching staff did a great job of preparing them for a completely different offense, and then we saw the result.”

In the first half, V.C.’s defense would record two sacks and two tackles for losses while Beckman’s defense had two sacks and two tackles for losses as well, plus picked off senior quarterbacks Colin Abrahams and Logan LeMonnier one time each. Offensively, the Patriots were limited to 29 yards and crossed midfield once. But at the half, McCarthy talked to his team about some adjustments they were going to make, and the final 24 minutes were much more to the liking of the Defenders.

A bad snap on a would-be punt led to Brown’s touchdown and after the two-point conversion failed, it was 12-0. Two and a half minutes later, Apisala recovered a fumble, the first of three straight fumbles by both teams. The last of those, which would be recovered by sophomore Bruno Caldarella would lead to a 15-yard score by senior quarterback Rocco Caldarella. The third quarterback of the contest would carry the ball five times and pick up 73 yards. For added measure, he scored on a four-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 26-0.

“Obviously we played three different quarterbacks and coming out in the second half, we put our best athlete at quarterback,” McCarthy said. “It calmed us and it smoothed things a little bit and things went our way.

“He’s a fantastic athlete,” McCarthy later said. “He could potentially play ball at the next level. So, we try to do as many things as we can to get the ball in his hands in space and then, that’s the result. He’s very dynamic.”

While V.C.’s offense picked it up in the second half, the defense kept its feet on the pedal as the Patriots fumbled on three straight possessions in the third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, Beckman had only one drive which lasted for 2:40, but resulted in its lone touchdown. When it was all said and done, the Patriots could muster only 42 yards on 31 carries with seven of them going for negative yardage.

“We just made some adjustments; our coach talked to us,” Brown said. “No one wants to come out and win a 6-0 game. We had to come out and get our stuff done. So, we knew what we had to fix, and we got it fixed for sure.”

“It’s really unfortunate for Beckman because they made so many mistakes and it might have given them a chance to compete a little bit better if they could have not made those mistakes,” McCarthy said. “But that’s what this game is. Really, teams don’t win the game, they just lose the game, and they made more mistakes than us today. So, we were fortunate.”

Meanwhile, V.C. had eight different ball carriers who totaled 276 yards while Abrahams completed four of seven passes for 84 yards.

“It’s all a team game and I’m really blessed,” Brown said. “Our team…we really come together and just the ability that we have, when we’re together and working, our [offensive] line was amazing tonight. I couldn’t ask for a better get together from our team. I’m just really glad of this outing.

“That’s all I wanted,” Brown later said of his performance. “I told my coach I just want a chance to come out here and compete, and if I get that chance, I could show him what I could do. When he gave me my chance, I had to take it and make the most of it and luckily my team was there too.”

The Defenders are scheduled to face longtime rival Ontario Christian High tonight on the road. The Knights enter the contest at 3-0-1 having knocked off Rancho Christian High 21-6 last time out. Entering that game, Ontario Christian had averaged 18 points a game and its rushing attack was churning up over 900 yards with a trio of running backs-Tyler Ford, Andrew Ortiz and Hayden Slegers all gaining over 100 yards so far. Don’t expect much passing from the Knights as Slegers has completed eight of 23 passes for 128 prior to the Rancho Christian game.

Since 1998, V.C. holds a 12-9 advantage over its rivals with 2005 being the lone interruption during that time. The Knights have won the past two meetings by a combined score of 94-31 but in the two meeting prior to that, V.C. won by a combined margin of 83 points. In the six victories V.C. has had in the Inland Empire since 1998, it has allowed 46 points.