The golden generation

Posted on 25. Sep, 2016 by in at risk youth, LCA News

saints football santa monica

Levi Photenhauer rushes to escape the tackle as Marcus Scribner and Jordan Shepherd (sophomore) scramble to to close the door on defenders. Photo credit: Lydia Bowen

By Michael Ashcraft

This was the class that reduced teachers to tears.

But something happened in the intervening years to our current crop of freshmen. The former devil-may-care rascals stopped creating classroom chaos, stopped ditching homework assignments and stopped terrorizing teachers. They started speaking respectfully to adults, started improving their academics and started serving at church.

Never mind their latest defeat against Crossroads Christian of Corona 6-58 on Friday. As freshmen, they’re developing into a fearsome strike force of future Lighthouse football.

Christian high school los angeles

Justin Berry brings down a Cougar. Photo credit: Lydia Bowen

What brought about the transformation?

In a word: Zach Scribner.

Zach Scribner is not only football coach. He’s  also youth pastor and the Lighthouse Church School janitor. By some means, Zach inspired the bad boys of current 9th grade to shape up. If they didn’t behave with their moms at home, he would punish them by NOT letting them clean the church and school at 6:00 a.m.

“Zach and Justin (Kayne, co-coach) have really turned me and Garrett (Lahood) and some of other players around,” Levi said. “He’s helped us realize it’s cool to be good. They lead by example. When we were younger, they were the cool guys that we looked up. Seeing them set a good example made us want to follow.”

Christian college prep football in Los Angeles

Marcus Scribner hits the turf hard Friday. Photo credit: Lydia Bowen.

So just forget that Lighthouse Christian Academy continues to hemorrhage on defense. (“We got find a way to make stops,” moaned Coach Justin Kayne. “We gotta find a way to stop the big play on 3rd and 4th down. Otherwise, it’s just a blowout.”)

This Los Angeles crew of Christian school players will get to winning. It just may not be this year.

In fact, they already won —  when they got character squared away. Fans may have to wait until their junior or senior year to see them dominate, but there’s no doubt it will happen. For now, they’re little, inexperienced and afraid to hit and be hit. Some of the Saints are running on spindly legs. Growth spurts have elongated bodies but not filled in stoutness. They’re pygmies going up against pachyderms.

Lighthouse Christian Academy greater Los Angeles

Levi Photenhauer turns on his speed to elude the circling sharks.

For now, the reformed youngsters give only glimmerings of a future of golden football. It seems like in every game a different underclassman shows what it takes to win.

This time it was freshman Levi Photenhauer, a red-headed, normally disheveled kid who looks like he stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting and onto the gridiron. Levi made an electrifying kickoff return tearing up the side, dodging opponents, for 50 yards in the fourth quarter. Then he caught a pass to put the Saints in the Red Zone. Lighthouse fans went wild.

“Every game has featured a different freshman,” said Coach Zach. “In the first game, Justin Berry (a sophomore) was kinds of the leader. Then Marcus (Scribner) in the second game. Hosea (Ashcraft) in the third game, and now Levi has kind of come alive. Each of them need to have a game like this to believe, ‘Hey, I can do this.'”

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Marcus Scribner needed ice on his neck in the third quarter and couldn’t play more.

Apparently, a little pep talk at half time brought out the best in Levi. Josh Scribner — Zach’s older brother and something of a football expert himself — pulled him aside. Levi had speed and moxie, he told him. All he needed to do was to get to the sideline because the opponents’ hardest hitters ran up the middle of the field.

Armed with this strategic information, Levi threw caution to the wind and hot-footed it to the sideline and dashed upfield.

It was too little, too late, and it didn’t net a touchdown. But it was a harbinger for the future.

Los Angeles football Christian college prep

Levi Photenhauer, the “Red Fury,” led a late charge in the Lighthouse game. Photo credit: Michael Ashcraft

Though this was Lighthouse’s fourth straight loss, it was the first game in which the Saints actually believed for some moments in the first half they might actually win. In the second quarter, LCA was tied 6-6 and was within striking distance to pull ahead 12-6. But a ref called delay of game penalty in a decision coaches disputed, and the Saints seemed to fall apart.

“There was a big change when we were about to score and make it 12-6 and take the lead,” Coach Zach said. “We had a penalty called on us that kind of stopped our momentum. Really, the penalty shouldn’t have been called. We had called time out. It was a problem with the refs. We didn’t end up scoring. Then two plays later, they wind up scoring, and for a long period of time, we just couldn’t seem to turn the momentum back in our favor. Then guys started getting injured.”

Los Angeles football high school Christian

Beleaguered at half time, the Saints muster strength to mount a comeback. Pictured center: Brandon Montes. Photo credit: Michael Ashcraft

In the third quarter, freshman Marcus Scribner, LCA’s most experienced player, suffered a neck injury that sidelined him.

Lighthouse is not the only small private school in the CIF League of 8-man football team that struggles to field a team in the Los Angeles area. With such teams, it’s either feast or famine as strong groups of boys get to their senior year and then graduate.

In the meantime, what’s more important is preparing students for life, not just teaching academics but also preparing them emotionally and spiritually for success. For his part, Levi has gone from earning C’s and D’s to getting B+’s and A’s. He’s gone from pushing kids around to cleaning toilets in the church.

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted, the Bible says.

On Friday, Levi got a little taste of exaltation.

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “The golden generation”

  1. […] In fact, they already won –  when they got character squared away. Read more about the triumphs and losses of our football team. […]

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