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The High Schools : Village Christian Coach Scratched Back’s Itch to Play

When Joe Everett showed up for Village Christian’s football game Saturday against L.A. Baptist, his coach thought he had been in a fight.

“His eyes were nearly swollen shut and he had welts all over his body,” Crusader Coach Mike Plaisance said. Said teammate Drew Martenson: “He looked like Rocky.”

But Everett, the fourth-leading rusher among Southern Section players in the Valley with 768 yards and 12 touchdowns in 131 carries, had not been in a brawl. Instead, a bout with poison oak while running with the team Thursday was the culprit. Teammates Craig Hudspeth, Greg Lloyd and Craig Fromel also became afflicted when Plaisance instructed the team to run on a cross-country course adjacent to the Sun Valley campus.

“Needless to say, we won’t be running that course anymore,” Plaisance said.

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Despite his condition, Everett insisted on playing and rushed for 58 yards in 16 carries as the Crusaders won the Alpha League game, 14-0.

“I told the coach that while I was out there my adrenaline would be flowing so I wouldn’t feel it,” Everett said. “On the sidelines I just kept cold water on it so I wouldn’t feel it.”

Everett awoke Monday morning with his left eye swollen shut, forcing him to miss practice. After receiving treatment by his doctor, Everett expects to play Saturday against Western Christian.

Add Village Christian: The key to the Crusaders’ win was the play of the defense, which has allowed an average of 129.7 yards a game. The Crusaders limited L.A. Baptist to 152 yards and stopped the Knights 5 times on fourth-down plays.

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Plaisance credited the success to a goal-line defense installed by assistant Curt Beck, who moved the 3 tallest players up on the line.

“We just told them to hit their down lineman to move them back, and it worked,” Plaisance said.

L.A. Baptist assistant Mark Bates refused to second-guess his fourth-down calls, including a third-quarter attempt from the Knights’ 20-yard line. That failure led to Village Christian’s second touchdown.

“I was the one who made the decision and my philosophy is losing, 7-0, or, 14-0, is still a loss,” said Bates, who calls the offensive plays. “If we punt, they’re just going to run down the clock, so we gambled. It probably would have worked, but we miscommunicated and sent in the wrong play.”

Last add Village Christian: The first installment of the L.A. Baptist-Village Christian game to carry the name the Christian Bible Bowl drew a crowd of 2,551 at Kennedy High. The gate receipts totaled $2,800, compared to $700 to $800 for a normal game, according to Plaisance.

Saugus woes: “It’s a lot of things you can’t put your finger on,” Saugus Coach Dick Flaherty said. “It’s a breakdown here, a breakdown there. It’s field position. It’s calls. It’s tough to deal with, I’ll tell you.”

It’s beginning to look like Saugus (0-6-1) might go winless this season. The Centurions will wind up the season against Quartz Hill, Antelope Valley and Canyon. Last week, the Centurions lost, 29-15, to Burroughs of Ridgecrest after leading, 15-8, in the second quarter.

“I thought, maybe, it was our best opportunity to win,” Flaherty said. “I don’t want to say that we were better than them, but I thought we would beat them. But we didn’t.”

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Saugus has scored 67 points and rushed for only 529 yards.

Gong show: The rivalry between Glendale and Crescenta Valley has taken on an ominous tone: The winner of the annual football game receives--as the trophy--a gong, and, for the second consecutive year, the Falcons took it home after soundly beating Glendale.

Crescenta Valley Coach Jim Beckenhauer called Friday’s 10-0 win a ringing endorsement for what he has been saying all season--the Falcons are not as bad as their 2-5 record.

“I don’t think our record was indicative of our play,” Beckenhauer said. “We weren’t getting blown out or really playing bad, we were just losing.”

The Falcons were outscored, 68-41, in their first 4 games--all losses--but 3 of those losses were by 7 points or fewer. Crescenta Valley beat Burroughs, 17-7, 3 weeks ago and lost to Pasadena, 21-7, before beating the Dynamiters.

“We’ve been playing pretty close all season long,” Beckenhauer said. “It just happens to be the close games have been going our way lately.”

Home-field disadvantage?: It has been 10 years since the home team has won in the Kennedy-San Fernando football rivalry. San Fernando won at Kennedy, 8-7, last year. The game this year will be played Friday at San Fernando. Kennedy is the underdog.

Birmingham blues: The lack of experienced players probably has knocked Birmingham from playoff contention. The Braves are 2-4 overall and take a 2-2 record into the start of Mid-Valley League play Friday. Only 2 teams from each City Section 3-A Division league qualify for the playoffs, and Reseda (6-0, 4-0) and Monroe (5-1, 4-0) are perched atop the league standings.

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“We’ve got no experience on the offensive line,” Coach Chick Epstein said. “We’ve got four sophomores starting on the line and a sophomore starting at tailback. We’ve got kids who would be playing ‘B’s in previous years, but because of our small numbers, they’re playing varsity. They’re playing hard, but they just don’t have any experience.”

That inexperience has devastated the Birmingham running game, which has accounted for 221 yards in 6 games. The team has yet to break the 100-yard mark in any single game.

“We’ll continue to throw the ball a lot,” Epstein said. “We’ll run the ball some to keep the defenses honest, but if you can throw the ball in high school football, you can be in most games.”

Quarterback Danny Larson has been a standout for the Braves, completing 69 of 143 passes for 951 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Staff writers Steven Fleischman, Vince Kowalick, John Ortega and Chris J. Parker contributed to this notebook.


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