Led by the electrifying play of the West's top rated running back in Cierre Wood, the Saints of Santa Clara were looking to make a big statement in what is their inaugural year in the Tri-Valley League. Their opponents, the Oaks Christian Lions, are no strangers to playing in big games in front of large audiences. Two years removed from the stellar senior class which featured notable names like Jimmy Clausen, Marc Tyler, and Marshall Jones, the Lions, like all powerhouse programs do after experiencing senior attrition, retooled and reloaded. The new wave of Lions stars features some familiar names: Junior running back Malcolm Jones, younger brother of Marshall, came into Friday's game having rushed for 976 yards and 14 touchdowns, and junior quarterback Nick Montana, of course, is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana. To say the least, Friday's game was a star-studded affair, but it was Oaks Christian's stars that shined the brightest.
For the Saints, the game started off well enough to suggest that they were certainly able to compete with the powerhouse Lions. After stopping the opening Oaks Christian drive on a fourth and goal play at the Saints' eight-yard line, Cierre Wood took his offense down the field on a scoring drive that was highlighted by three huge Woods runs of 26, 15, and 18 yards. After coming short on third and eight at the Lions' twenty-six, the Saints opted for a Zak Ware field goal from 23-yards out.
Unfortunately for the Saints, that would be just about as much offense as they would muster for the rest of the night. On the very next offensive play for Oaks Christian, the Lions showcased their talented junior running back. On first and ten from their own forty, Malcolm Jones took Nick Montana's handoff, made one cut to his right, and eluded defenders on his way to an electrifying 60-yard touchdown run.
While the Saints added another Zak Ware field goal to draw within one score, that would be all she wrote for the Santa Clara offense. Defensively, Oaks Christian proved to be too much for the Saints. After allowing Woods to shine in their first two offensive possessions, the Saints tried to spread the ball around to their other options. However, when this endeavor proved to be ineffective, the Lions' defense had already refocused their efforts on stopping the Saints' running back. Out of the backfield, Wood found it nearly impossible to find a hole, and even if he did, the Lions' linebackers and secondary were there to meet him.
To compound matters for Santa Clara, the Oaks Christian offense was firing on all cylinders. After Ware's second field goal for the Saints, Oaks Christian only needed two plays to get into the endzone once again. This time around, however, it was Montana who showcased his skills, throwing a 56-yard touchdown strike to Brian Owusu to extend the lead to 14-6 with 9:09 remaining in the first half.
Friday night, though, was definitely the Malcolm Jones show. One offensive possession later, Jones added another score, taking the ball and running it 50-yards for a touchdown. Jones would also add a touchdown reception to close out the first half, taking a Montana pass on third and fourteen from his own forty-eight to extend the Lions' lead to 28-6.
As is usually the case for Oaks Christian when they have a commanding lead at the half, their starters play sparingly, if at all, in the third and fourth quarters. Montana added a touchdown run in the third, and Jordan Morrison added another score in the fourth.
Malcolm Jones finished the evening with 220 all purpose yards (151 yards rushing and 69 yards receiving) while scoring three times. Nick Montana finished with 124 yards through the air, completing nine of his seventeen passes. He threw for one touchdown while running for another.
It was another great defensive effort for Oaks Christian, not allowing a touchdown to Cierre Wood and the Saints. For the season, the Lions have allowed a paltry 47 points to opponents while scoring 427 themselves.
Next Friday, Oaks Christian closes off the season against Nordhoff while Santa Clara hosts Carpinteria in their season finale.