This is how neophytes learn to put up a fight: a small school fills a football roster

Posted on 29. Aug, 2015 by in Christian school sports, LCA News, varsity football

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As the injured Crossroads player is taken from the field, Coach Justin Kayne tells the kids how to prevail against overwhelming odds.

One jittery kid forgot to put in his mouth guard. Another contracted a last-minute mysterious disease that incapacitated him. A bunch of kids missed tackles.

And that’s how the newbies got the heebie-jeebies at the Saints 2015 opener of 8-man football on Aug. 28 in a 20-34 loss to better-financed Crossroads Christian School of Corona.

“I’m always nervous before a game,” admitted LCA senior Tex Hagoski. “But then I either hit someone or get hit by someone and I remember that it’s not so bad.”

Hagoski gave and took plenty of hits. He ramrodded through the defensive line on punishing run after bruising run. Plenty of pain was dished out for everyone. A Crossroads player broke a leg. The Saints walked off the field battered but proud — they had given all.

“It hurt,” said Abraham Morales, a sophomore. “I was afraid when that kid messed his leg up. But I had to keep going because their team was going to come back stronger.”

It was Abraham’s first game, along with about half the squad. He’s been hard-working and faithful in practice. And on Friday night, he proved a critical element in the chemistry for Saints football.

Fellow sophomore Alex Cervantes felt much more at ease this, his second year. He came up with a touchdown-scoring reception on a long pass that surprised the Crossroads Cougars. They left him completely unguarded as they mistook the play for a run and all players swooped in for the kill.

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They were hot. They were tired. They didn’t hardly get a break as players stayed on the field for both offense and defense.

Football is a rite of passage at Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica. Few pass through our holy halls without donning cleats for this sport hallowed by our patron saint of UCLA and Rams football, head pastor Rob Scribner. Tryouts consist of several grueling rounds of pleading with the unwilling, the wimps, the occupied, the excuse-makers, the snivelers.

With a student enrollment of 50, LCA needs virtually every boy to play. Freshmen are unceremoniously thrown into the varsity football shark tank. Brutal blows become a matter of pride, of manliness. You grow up and you shut up and you don’t cry. You leave behind childish ways and immature behavior through the process. How else are you going to get boys to stop being so annoyingly irresponsible boyish?

You can elude the recruiters for one year, not two. Coaches will teach you plays, build up your muscle and mercifully drill into you stamina by yelling all kinds of friendly words at you on your umpteenth lap around the park. Players have been know to pray for Jesus’ immediate return so as to get out of the eternity of laps. It’s called Hell Heaven Week.

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Both teams paused for prayer after the gladiator clash was over.

But after those days of pain, the payday came. It was Friday when the lowly Saints defied Crossroads, a vast campus with its own turf field, its own lights, with parking lots large enough to fill their bleachers with hundreds of fans. It was intimidating just walking onto field. But LCA players weren’t intimidated. They were disorganized and inexperienced, yes — especially in the first quarter when they let the Cougars basically run rampant and put up two touchdowns in a twinkling of an eye.

But they were not whiners, and they were not quitters.

They gathered themselves together and clawed their way back into the game. The strung together a succession of banging runs and passes to pull off three touchdowns by game’s end.

“We never gave up,” said Coach Justin Kayne, filling in for Zach Scribner. “For some of our guys, it was their first ball game ever. We had fight. We gotta get in better shape. We gotta decide we wanna play. It was a heck of a game. We shouldn’t be discouraged. We have a lot of learn, but we had a great game. I’m proud of every single one of my players. We have a lot of potential. There’s so much to build upon. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next couple weeks.”

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