SAN JOSE, Calif. -
Many thought picking the winner between state-ranked squads Valley Christian and Bellarmine was a flip of the coin.
Coincidently, this one was largely decided immediately following one.
That was the case in one of the nation’s Top 10 games on Friday night as Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.)
won the flip, elected to receive and reeled off a statement-making 13-play, 70-yard scoring drive that propelled it to a 20-7 West Catholic Athletic League home victory over Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.)
Valley Christian normally defers, but coach Mike Machado conferred with his staff briefly and decided to take the ball and control.
The Warriors’ electrifying junior tailback Byron Marshall
finished off the drive with one of his three touchdowns, an un-electrifying 1-yard plunge and Valley Christian was on its way to avenging four consecutive losses to the two-time defending Central Coast Section Open Division champs.
Before a packed house of about 5,000 fans, Valley Christian, ranked 20th nationally by MaxPreps.com and No. 6 in the state, improved to 7-0, while Bellarmine, ranked 30th in the state, dropped to 6-1.
“We wanted to send a message and stuff them like they normally stuff it to other teams,” said Marshall, who also scored on runs of 6 and 14 yards.
Indeed it’s the Bells who normally utilize its non-fancy, scrum-like double-wing and go on long, sustained drives to demoralize opponents.
Instead they were beaten at their own game, as Valley Christian took its second possession and went 80 yards on 11 plays, capped by a 6-yard Marshall scamper to go up 13-0.
“(Bellarmine coach) Mike (Janda) has done an excellent job and Bellarmine has ruled the roost the last couple years,” Machado said. “But it was just our time tonight and hopefully it’s our time now to re-establish ourselves as the league power.”
Marshall, one of the top 100 juniors in the nation, showed why by rushing 18 times for 131 yards. Besides his three scores he also blocked a chip-shot field goal attempt right before the half.
“He’s an exciting and fast runner who is very had to contain,” Janda said. “You have to give Valley Christian a lot of credit. They executed their game plan and we did not. We made too many critical mistakes to beat a team like that.”
Bellarmine finished with just 188 yards and finally got on the board with 2:43 remaining on a 21-yard pass from Travis McHugh
to Alex Manigan. Bellarmine got the ball back one more time, but McHugh, a big, physical, ellusive 6-foot-3, 205-pound Tim Tebow type, was sacked twice.
Explosive Bellarmine tailback Kristoffer Olugbode
was held to just 22 yards on 10 carries.
“I think our speed helped narrow the scope of what they wanted to do,” Machado said. “Those guys can eat up a whole quarter with that offense and take your heart away. But we did a good job stopping them and establishing what we wanted to do.”
After Marshall’s first touchdown, Valley Christian went 80 more yards in 11 plays finished off with a nifty 6-yard Marshall TD run.
Bellarmine finally got something going on its final drive of the half keyed by a 41-yard completion and 16-yard scamper from quarterback McHugh, but Marshall capped off his half by blocking a 23-yard field goal try by Thomas Dazzi.
It was the first block for Marshall this year, after blocking a combined seven punts and kicks last year, he said.
shot the gap and they had to block him so that opened up a lane for me,” Marshall said. “It was important we maintained a two-touchdown lead going into the half so that felt great.”
It felt even better for Valley Christian after junior defensive lineman Theodore King
recovered a fumbled pitch on the second play of the second half and one play later, Marshall scooted around right end for a 14-yard touchdown.
“We need this win to stay undefeated and show we can beat these guys,” Marshall said. “They’ve had our number the last few years.”
Said Machado: “I didn’t have to say much to these guys (before the game). They remember those losses. … Tonight they can remember this one for at least one day. Then it’s back to work.” Valley Christian 20, Bellarmine 7
Bellarmine 0 0 0 7 - 7
Valley Christian 7 6 7 0 - 20First quarter
VC – Marshall 1 run (Ramirez kick), 5:13Second quarter
VC – Marshall 6 run (run failed), 11:20Third quarter
VC – Marshall 14 run (Ramirez kick), 10:32Fourth quarter
B – Manigo 21 pass from McHugh (Dazzi kick), 2:43Team statistics
First downs: Bellarmine 11, Valley Christian 14
Rushes-yards: B 33-89, VC 37-208
Passing B 4-4-12-0-107, VC 6-12-0-54
Total yards: B 196, VC 262
Turnovers: B 1, VC 0Individual statisticsRushing
Bellarmine: Travis McHugh 15-30, Justin Tailaferro 4-25, Kristoffer Olugbode 10-22, Tim Crawley 3-7, Conner Jauch 1-5. Valley Christian: Byron Marshall 18-131, Darelle Jones 7-43, Jarrod Lawson 9-36, Zach Vaiana 3-(-2). Passing
Bellarmine: McHugh 4-12-0-107. Valley Christian Vaiana 6-12-0-54. Receiving
Bellarmine: George Armistead 1-41, Olugbode 1-34, Manigo 1-21, Crawley 1-11. Valley Christian: Marshall 3-15, Fobbs 2-29, Jones 1-10.Ten Observations from Valley Christian-Bellarmine1.
Byron Marshall is as good or better than advertised. And that's saying something considering he's been ranked one of the Top 100 juniors in the country. He gets up to his sprinter speed remarkably fast plus he's way more physical than I envisioned. He can punish high school defensive backs and often does by lowering his shoulder. 2.
Marshall could easily be a top Division I cornerback or safety as well. He hits very hard and is a big play-maker on defense - as he showed with his field goal block. He's going to contend for a state 100-meter track title by the way. We predict he'll break 10.50 seconds. 3.
I like how the Valley Christian staff uses Marshall - often as a decoy. They lull you into sleep by utlizing their other very capable weapons - quarterback Zach Vaiana, fullback Jarrod Lawson, running back Darelle Jones, receiver Brian Fobbs - and then BAM! - they hit you with the ultimate threat. I think most coaches would be tempted to pound Marshall and get him 30 touches or more per game. But the team is more effective this way, plus over the long haul this saves Marshall's legs for the long haul. 4.
Fobbs, a 6-foot, 180-pound athlete, is smooth in his routes and after one drop, showed off some exceptional hands. 5.
Valley Christian's defense is supremely fast, gets to the ball in a flash and gang tackles well. The Warriors may have trouble with big, bruising, physical teams that control the clock. That's why we thought Bellarmine might give them some problems.
Bellarmine isn't that big either, but its ball-control offense simply was out of rhythm. Valley Christian stacked the front and Bellarmine coach Mike Janda smartly went to some early pass routes. They were open but Travis McHugh, under heavy duress, missed the target early. Had those connected, the game would have been vastly different. 7.
That said, I think McHugh is terrific. The 6-3, 205-pound southpaw is in the mold of Tim Tebow and reminds me of him in many regards. He's deceptively fast and strong and hard to bring down. If more accurate with his arm, he will definitely play at the next level. 8.
Though this game was never in doubt, Bellarmine isn't the far off. The Bells had trouble stopping Valley Christian on third down, but if I was Machado, I wouldn't want to face the Bells in the postseason. Plus, it's hard defeating the same WCAL team twice. Plus, with eight junior starters, Bellarmine is probably going to progress at a greater rate than other teams. 9.
The Bellarmine student body section is hilarious, fun, yet well-mannered. 10.
We said it last time we were here, but there's not a better jazz band I've seen in the state than Valley Christian. Professional, clean, clear and, of course, jazzy. The hospitality we received at the big beautiful campus overlooking the Silicon Valley was second to none.