It was more than two hours before kickoff, and 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux of Westlake Village Oaks Christian was walking off the field in street clothes shouting out lyrics from Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” blaring from his headphones.
Whatever the musical pregame preparation did for Thibodeaux, he needs to keep it up. He played like a teenager from another planet Friday night against Lancaster Paraclete.
“When he puts his ears back and goes, he’s the best around,” Oaks Christian coach Jim Benkert said.
Recording three sacks in the first half and chasing quarterback Brevin White from start to finish, Thibodeaux helped Oaks Christian defeat Paraclete, 30-21. Thibodeaux also caught a five-yard touchdown pass.
“It’s hard playing against him,” White said. “He’s a lot quicker than I thought. We tried it all. They kept bringing the house.”
Oaks Christian (2-1) now has knocked off the No. 1 team in Southern Section Division 5, Paraclete (2-1), and the No. 1 team in Division 2, Huntington Beach Edison (2-1), in its past two games after losing to West Hills Chaminade in its opener.
A resurgent Lions team has come on strong behind running back Zach Charbonnet, who rushed for 196 yards in 30 carries and had scores of 10, one and 40 yards.
The game looked difficult in the beginning for Oaks Christian. On the Lions’ first offensive play, quarterback Marco Siderman was intercepted by Tyler Richardson, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Then receiver Josh Calvert, who was supposed to relieve Siderman at quarterback, suffered a possible concussion on the next possession.
How Siderman, a sophomore, and the Lions recovered helped lead to the victory. They opened a 23-14 halftime lead. In the third quarter, White engineered a scoring drive that led to a one-yard touchdown run by Jason Haywood, and the Spirits trailed, 23-21.
But Charbonnet broke loose for his 40-yard TD run and Paraclete also missed on a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Then there was Thibodeaux charging from the left side again and again. Paraclete tried shovel passes to slow him down. White tried running away from him or slipping inside. But with another Oaks Christian lineman, Mister Williams, also putting on pressure, the Spirits just didn’t have enough blocking to prevail.
“My coach told me this is the game I can’t take plays off,” said Thibodeaux, an All-City player last season as a sophomore at Dorsey.
“KT, you’re playing lights out, baby,” an Oaks Christian assistant shouted late.
White completed 24 of 37 passes for 257 yards and was sacked five times.