Quarterback Joel Lahood frustrates an Upland tackle.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA – For a few minutes in the fourth quarter, Saints Christian school football got the sensation it would engineer the greatest upset of CIF Southern Section 2013 when Senior Joel Lahood intercepted a pitch and scored, making it 22-28, one touchdown away from a tie on Friday.
It’s nothing new for Lighthouse Christian Academy, student population 46, to face teams that are both bigger in bodily size and in terms of team members. LCA has flouted the odds-against with grit and its rediscovered sense of greatness, winning four games in a row before Sept. 27.
But Upland Christian Academy, student population 230, was simply superior to any team yet seen. In the first minutes of the game, an Upland player broke through and sprinted for a touchdown. To watch him pull away from pursuers like a train produced a sinking feeling of helplessness. Never before had we faced someone faster than us.
Mustering character, the Saints squelched the sinking feeling and responded with a touchdown. Nate Peterson ran the ball with verve and swerve, timing his cuts and crashes perfectly to exploit any millimetric miscalculation of a foe’s counterbalance.
Nate Peterson breaks through and sprints for a touchdown
“This is going to be a game,” observed Michael Moore, whose transfer has delayed his start with our Christian school football.
But Upland was far better than they were last year, when the Saints’ bobbling gifted them a win. With players 20-30 pounds heftier than ours in every position, and with a humming discipline, Upland finished the half with 28 points.
LCA conjured a determination to play to win – not just limp through the rest of the game, praying for the final whistle to come. The Saints denied Upland any more points until Lahood put LCA within striking distance.
That is when a missed tackled allowed another touchdown sprint to assure Upland the victory. LCA suffered its first defeat of the season 22-34.
The opposing coach praised LCA’s Christian school football: “You guys are the toughest team we’ve faced all season.” At the end of the game, the two teams prayed in a circle in the center of the field, and the opposing coached singled out Peterson for particular praise. It was a loss, yes, but a loss we could take pride in.
LCA Head Coach Justin Kayne pumped up his players. We were simple outgunned. One loss doesn’t sink a season, he said. “We’re going to the playoffs!”
And so, the legacy of Christian determination manifested in toughness and fighting spirit on the field – a legacy founded by former Rams football player Pastor Rob Scribner, marches on in pursuit of excellence.