Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals football dropped its first game of the season in Friday’s road loss against the Valley Christian Academy Lions.
The Lions jumped all over the Cardinals, stacking on numerous big plays in a game that just got away from SCCS.
VCA won the non-league matchup, 52-14, to remain undefeated.
SCCS (2-1) head coach Austin Fry saw his team battle but make a few too many mental mistakes.
“Quite honestly, it was not a great showing by us,” Fry said in a phone interview. “We knew we were playing a really good team, there were no surprises there. We knew what they were gonna do, but I think the moment beat us a little bit. There were a lot of lapses mentally that turned into big plays and it’s impossible to win games when you lose the big-play battle.”
Fry felt his team was in the game when they countered with big plays of their own. However, the Lions (2-0) capitalized on a handful of Cardinal turnovers while also shutting down the SCCS run game.
“They played a really aggressive defensive style that forced us to be uncomfortable all game and took away the run game completely,” Fry said. “We weren’t in sync at all.”
The Lions rolled from the get-go and hadn’t even taken five offensive snaps in the first quarter up 18-7.
SCCS was never able to recover. Quarterback Cayden Rappleye finished the day 14-for-32 with 244 passing yards and 2 TDs. The junior also added 13 tackles on defense, second to only senior Jude Patton, who racked up 17.
One of Rappleye’s scores was a 75-yard TD pass to Wyatt Waldron, while Eli Duhm punched in the other score. Duhm had another impressive outing, finishing the day with five receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Waldron also added an interception for the Cardinal defense.
For Fry, game preparations have been smooth so far and his team has felt ready for every matchup this season.
“I think our game planning is going really well,” Fry said. “The way we’re preparing, we haven’t been surprised yet in terms of what we’re seeing in games and how we’re preparing in practice. We have guys that can make big plays. Our defensive line also looks pretty good, they’re able to hold the line of scrimmage really well. Our linebackers are really physical this year. We’ve got good football players. We’re not just a few talented players anymore. We’re a talented football team.”
The Cards will look to bounce back next week when Heritage League play begins. SCCS will hit the road on Thursday for a league showdown with the Milken Wildcats.
Fry is simulating games as much as possible in practice, hoping to intensify the importance of each play and possession.
“This week, the emphasis is to try and be perfect,” Fry said. “We’re trying to do things with no repeat plays, no repeat situations. We don’t get do-overs, we’re not gonna reset, that’s how we’re trying to readjust after Friday. In a game, you get one chance and that’s it. We’re trying to add that pressure on our guys.”
SCCS takes on Milken on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Birmingham High School.