By Wil Keepers,
On Friday, the Redding Christian Lions traveled to Butte Valley to play their third consecutive road game and crushed the Bulldogs 63-0. Butte Valley (1-3, 1-6) has struggled this season, but the addition of a couple of new players gave them hope that they would be more competitive in this game. Their first drive also may have given them hope. After a stuffed run play and an incomplete pass, new player Austin Martinez took a direct snap and scampered 20 yards. On two consecutive plays after that, the Bulldogs gained 11 and 15 yards, making their way into the red zone. But a holding penalty on an end around run put them into a first and 20 at the thirty, and after a muffed snap resulted in a sack, and two plays were stuffed for loss, the Bulldogs faced 4th and 31 outside their 40. The punt sailed deep and Clark Smith picked it up at the 11, made a couple of tacklers miss, and raced 89 yards for the opening touchdown. The PAT was blocked, but the Lions led 6-0, and the Bulldogs never threatened to score again. After the kickoff, Butte Valley’s second possession was a three and out, and the Lions got the ball at their own 44. Three Isaiah Van Denend runs later, and the Lions were in the end zone again on a twelve yard touchdown, two-point conversion good, and the Lions led 14-0. Butte Valley’s third possession began on the 25, and after two consecutive snaps over the quarterbacks head, the Bulldogs snapped the ball out the back of the end zone and gave up a safety, and the lead grew to 16-0. The drizzly rain and 40 degree cold that picked up in the middle of the first quarter definitely was a factor, but cannot explain it all. The Lions Josiah Van Denend returned the free kick 32 yards, and on the first play from scrimmage, Isaiah Van Denend ran 22 yards for his second touchdown, and after Jonah Osborne hit the PAT, the score was 23-0, where it remained through the first quarter.
Early in the second, kickoff specialist Sam Chiu got his first touchback of his career. After a Butte Valley punt, Clark Smith fumbled, his only mistake on an otherwise stellar night, and Butte Valley had the ball in Lions territory. But the defense played terrific, stifling and pressuring the Bulldogs all night, and they turned it over on downs. The Lions drove the ball down field for almost 8 minutes, culminating in a 12 yard Sam Standifer touchdown run. The Bulldogs struggled with wet snaps again, and punted from their own end zone to just the 29 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Isaiah Van Denend completed his only pass attempt of the night, 20 yards to Wyatt Hughes, and the Lions went into the half ahead 37-0.
Isaiah played just one possession in the second half, ending it running 25 yards to the end zone, and after the 44-0 lead, Coach Piper put in backup quarterback Clark Smith. Over the third and fourth quarters, Josiah Van Denend added a 35 yard touchdown, Sam Chiu added a 30 yard touchdown, and Clark Smith completed his one pass of the night to freshman Carson Piper for a 9 yard touchdown.
Isaiah Van Denend rushed 9 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns and went 1-1 passing for a 20 yard touchdown. Backup Clark Smith rushed twice for 14 yards, and went 1-1 passing for a 9 yard touchdown. In all, the Lions had just 21 offensive plays, but 8 of them went into the endzone. Clark Smith was really the player of the game with 14 tackles from his safety spot and an interception and a sack to lead the defense, as well as his passing touchdown and his punt return touchdown, to score in all three phases. Caleb Steffen had six tackles and a sack, and Ryne Luaces had five tackles, as the Lions defense got the shutout, even with backups playing most of the second half.
The Lions are now 3-1 in league and 4-3 overall, and sit in third place in the league. A win next week at home vs. Dunsmuir would assure a seventh straight playoff berth.