Welcome to the little league, kid.
Working behind a massive offensive line and throwing the ball to talented receivers, Oaks Christian quarterback Nick Montana made his Tri-Valley League debut Friday night in impressive fashion. The 6-2 junior tossed four touchdown passes as the Lions overwhelmed Bishop Diego 61-0 at La Playa Stadium.
Montana (8-for-11, 136 yards) played only in the first half and did not put up huge numbers, but he was a paragon of efficiency, much like his father Joe, who was watching in the stands.
“We wanted to come out and execute better in the passing game,” Montana said. “We did tonight.”
Two of his first three passes went for touchdowns to Brian Owusu, for 24 and 43 yards, staking Oaks Christian to an early 13-0 lead. When Bishop Diego went three-and-out for the third time, the speedy Owusu ran back the punt 40 yards for another score.
Oaks Christian (6-0), winner of five straight CIF Southern Section titles, had a 34-0 lead after one quarter. Malcolm Jones, a powerful 217-pound junior running back, scored the first of his three touchdowns on an 18-yard romp. A fumbled snap on a punt attempt gave the visitors a gift at the end of the period, as Jordan Morrison picked up the ball and strolled eight yards into the end zone.
Bishop Diego (1-5) was bumped up into the TVL after its success in the Frontier League, where it was able to avoid Oaks Christian for two years. It isn’t a good time for the Cardinals to take on stiffer competition, as graduation and injuries have depleted their roster.
“It’s got to be disheartening to line up against a team like that,” Cardinals coach Tom Crawford said. But he was still disappointed with their response. “I didn’t think we competed very well, and we weren’t fundamentally very sound.”
Bishop’s Eric Albarran punted eight times, and he unleashed a 72-yarder that pinned the Lions near their own goal line in the second quarter. That just meant Montana and Co. had to work a little harder to reach paydirt. After Montana was sacked on the one, he drove the Lions 99 yards. The payoff was a 20-yard pass to Jones, who hurdled Bishop defender Sam Verhasselt on his way to the end zone.
Montana, who transferred over the summer from run-oriented De La Salle High in Concord, called it a night after he hit a diving Chris Judge for a 10-yard TD late in the first half.
Jones (13 carries, 213 yards) ran wild at the outset of the third quarter, scoring his third TD on a 41-yard run. Oaks Christian’s backup QB Tony Macarena – a former starter at St. Bonaventure – concluded the scoring by completing his only pass for a touchdown to Alani Fua.
Trevor Gretzky – the son of Wayne, the hockey Hall of Famer – saw his first varsity action at quarterback in the final period. Gretzky, who led Oaks Christian frosh-soph team to a 53-0 victory the previous day, was stopped short on a fourth-and-goal by the Cardinals’ defense, led by linebacker Art Gonzalez.
From their own three, the Cardinals had their best offensive surge of the night. R.J. Escamilla got it started with a 16-yard run. Senior quarterback Anthony Martinez then completed four consecutive passes, the last three to Andrew Torrellas, but time ran out on the Cardinals when Torrellas made his last catch at the Lions 12-yard line.
“At the end, some of our younger players stepped it up,” said Martinez, who completed 10-of-19 passes for 90 yards.
Bishop’s leading rusher was 150-pound freshman Paul Garcia, who banged out 30 yards on 13 carries against the Lions’ swarming defense.
It only gets a little easier for the Cardinals next Friday, when they travel to face Nordhoff in Ojai. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Crawford said.
Oaks Christian will welcome Carpinteria to its Westlake Village home stadium next week. The Lions are 59-3 over the past five years and have lost only one TVL game in that span.
OAKS CHRISTIAN 61, BISHOP DIEGO 0
Oaks Christian…..…… 34 14 13 0 — 61
Bishop Diego ……………0 0 0 0 — 0
OC—Owusu 24 pass from Montana (kick failed), 8:28.
OC—Owusu 43 pass from Montana (Bierschenk kick), 5:42.
OC—Osusu 40 punt return (Bierschenk kick), 3:48.
OC—Jones 18 run (Bierschenk kick), 2:10.
OC—Morrison 8 fumble recovery (Bierschenk kick), 0:04.
OC—Jones 20 pass from Montana (Bierschenk kick), 5:38.
OC—Judge10 pass from Montana (Bierschenk kick), 0:43.
OC—Jones 41 run (kick failed), 10:50.
OC—Fua 6 pass from Macarena (Davis kick), 2:47.
TEAM TOTALS OC BD
First Downs 21 9
Rushes-Yards 39-344 30-17
Passing Yards 142 96
Total Yards 486 113
Comp-Att-Int 9-12-0 10-19-1
Punts-Avg 1-42 8-31.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-Yards 9-80 4-40
RUSHING — OC: Jones 13-213, Morrison 10-74, Buccieri 4-29, Gretzky 2-10, Judge 1-9, Montana 2-5, Williams 1-5, Brownell 3-1, Borowski 3-(minus 2). BD: Garcia 12-30, Escamilla 6-16, Bortolazzo 2-0, Verhasselt 1-(minus 1), Vanderfin 3-(minus 4), Martinez 5-(minus 5), center snap 1-(minus 19).
PASSING —OC: Montana 8-11-0-136; Macarena 1-1-0-6. BD: Martinez 10-19-1-90.
RECEIVING —OC: Owusu 2-66, Jones 2-26, Coyle 1-18, Holliday 1-13, Judge 1-10, Fua 1-6. BD: Torrellas 3-36, Escamilla 3-34, Gonzalez 2-6, Verhasselt 1-11, Garcia 1-9.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None
TEAM RECORDS —Oaks Christian 6-0, Bishop Diego 1-5.