Valley Christian Academy is moving on in the playoffs.
The Lions rolled past La Verne’s Calvary Baptist Cougars 58-20 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 8-man football playoffs Thursday night in Santa Maria.
“It was a good game for us,” said VCA head coach Pete Fortier. “Our offense really clicked and our defense played one of its best games of the year.”
Led by quarterback Trenton Lane and running back Adam Aldana, VCA won on the strength of its ground game, piling up 353 rushing yards, against only 4 yards passing, to dominate the time of possession.
Coming shortly after Halloween, Calvary Baptist had plenty of tricks but none led to treats for the Cougars’ offense.
In the first half, Calvary Baptist regularly set its offense, waited a second then had massive shifts of personnel, in and out of the shotgun formation with receivers swapping sides of the field and running backs moving into or out of a wildcat formation.
But the Lions weren’t fooled.
They never took the bait, never jumped offside and were never caught out of position.
“We had some film of these guys and we went over and over their plays,” said VCA assistant coach and defensive coordinator Randy Stanford. “We knew they’d try to run a lot of trick plays and we were ready for them.”
By halftime, the Cougars abandoned their shifting offense.
The Lions’ defense held the Cougars to 87 total yards in the first half and 283 for the game, with many of their yards picked up late when the Lions had the game in hand.
Lane had 137 yards rushing with two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Aldana totaled 133 yards on 10 carries with four scores.
Ethan McCoy added another 81 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, moving from wide receiver and running back to quarterback midway through the fourth quarter.
VCA came out running.
McCoy returned the game-opening kickoff to midfield (the 40 yard line in 8-man football).
Aldana ran twice, followed by two Lane runs, setting up a McCoy 10-yard run into the end zone.
Lane ran the ball in for a 2-point conversion and an 8-0 lead three minutes into the game.
McCoy got the ball right back for the Lions, intercepting a Josh Ochoa pass and returning it to the Cougars’ 39.
Aldana broke through the right side for a 26-yard gain, and then Lane finished the drive off with a 5-yard run for a 14-0 lead at 7:12 of the quarter.
VCA turned the ball over on downs and was forced to punt on their next two possessions, then scored on three straight possessions – on an 18-yard Aldana run, a 38-yard Lane run and a 14-yard Aldana run to lead 32-0 with 4:13 left in the half.
The Cougars finally broke through for their first score when quarterback Adrian LeCesne – one of three Cougars quarterbacks on the night – scored from 4-yards out to cut the score to 32-8 with 10-seconds left in the half.
By then, the Lions had the game well in control.
“You can’t really single anyone out. The whole defense played great,” said VCA assistant coach Randy Stanford. “They didn’t get much going until we were already in the fourth quarter.”
Aldana showed his toughness on the Lions’ opening drive of the second half.
Taking the ball at the Cougar’s 30, Aldana ran to his right, was hit and hit again, but kept fighting free until he hit the sideline, turned toward the end zone and was gone – putting VCA up 39-8 with 9:55 remaining in the third.
In almost the same play, Aldana made it 45-8 with a 16-yard touchdown run at 3:27.
When Lane intercepted a Jeremiah Frisco pass and returned it 45-yards for a score and a 52-8 lead with 1:43 left in the third, it was time for Fortier to bring in the backups.
When Frisco hit Adrian LeCesne with a 16-yard touchdown pass, it pulled Calvary Baptist to 52-14 with 8:11 left in the game.
At that point, the referee started a running clock.
But there was still time for McCoy, now at quarterback, to roll left to the sideline where he got behind the defense for a 30-yard TD run and a 58-14 lead with 2:33 left in the fourth.
LeCesne, the third Cougars quarterback, hit Frisco with a 9-yatd touchdown pass as the game-ending buzzer sounded.
The Lions are playing in Division 2 of the Southern Section’s 8-Man playoffs, with the 8-Man tournament getting started a week before the 11-Man schools.
The game was moved up a night because of a Friday shortage of game officials with Thursday night’s crew coming up from the Ojai area.
Valley Christian likely get No. 1 overall seed Hesperia Christian (7-1) next week. Hesperia Christian plays No. 16 St. Michaels Prep (3-4) Friday night at Hesperia Christian.
No matter whom the Lions face, VCA will be on the road for its second round matchup.