SHASTA LAKE— The Central Valley Falcons held strong late to edge the Redding Christian Lions 13-5 on Friday night at Ron Hale Memorial Stadium to improve to 2-0 for the first time since the 2011 season.
After its initial opponent, Anderson, was forced to cancel after COVID concerns in the program, Central Valley picked up non league opponent Redding Christian one day before the game. It was the first time COVID canceled a game it and showed the flexibility between the schools as the Lions, a traditional 8-man squad, have played up in the 11-man ranks in order to get games in the shortened spring season. Nonetheless it was great to see two teams on the field.
“First of all, I’ve never got a football team ready in 24 hours, that was very difficult,” said CV coach Aaron Richards. “The biggest thing is the kids were coachable, humble at halftime, they knew that we had some stuff that we needed to work on, guys had to step in at different positions (defensively).
“We’re just trying to find kids that can do things for us, I’m just proud that they fought the whole time. They just consistently played defense. That’s something we’re going to build on.”
The first half was a defensive battle for Richards’ Falcons and Gerald Piper’s Lions. Both defenses came up with plays in the opening 24 minutes and the squads hit intermission tied 0-0.
After the Lions went three-and-out to start the second half, the Falcons got on the scoreboard. On senior night, CV took advantage on a mixture of runs by Willie Mowry, Jonny Mack and Christian Mayer, but the drive appeared to stall with a fourth-and-six on their own 30. But a 25-yard screen to Jaden Elliot gave the Falcons a first-and-goal and Mowry’s QB keep put the Falcons up 7-0 with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Lions looked set to tie the score, but the Falcons’ defense held on fourth-and-goal on the four. But Redding Christian would get on the board after forcing a CV punt. The snap sailed out of the back of the end zone and the Lions cut the lead to 7-2 with the safety.
Redding Christian drove to the 11-yard line with 4 minutes remaining and booted a 25-yard field goal to pull within two at 7-5 in a score more indicative of a baseball game.
Central Valley’s Kade Crowell helped the hosts chew up the clock as his touchdown extended the lead to 13-5. Crowell finished the game with 82 yards and one touchdown. Mowry, who broke the ice for the Falcons, finished with 36 yards passing and 45 on the ground, plus a touchdown. Mack also contributed with 44 yards.
“At the end of the day I’m just really happy to be out here (with my best friends),” Crowell said. “This group hasn’t stopped pushing since day one and always has a positive attitude. We tend to come alive in the second half and really play heartfelt football. That’s when I think all our conditioning, all our summer workouts, that’s what pays off in the second half.”
For the Lions, Carson Piper finished with 93 yards on 18 carries and 6-of-13 passing for 80 yards. Clark Smith added 11 carries for 42 yards, Josiah Van Denend led the team in tackles with 10. Jonah Osborne added the only offensive score with a 25-yard field goal.
“I think the difference was their ability to run up the middle on us, and they were able to chew the clock,” Gerald Piper said. “To kind of just able to run the ball get 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Those are tough boys over there. But I was proud of our guys we were able to make some key stops and keep the game close.”
Redding Christian (1-1) travels to Portola (3-0) next week for its final game of the season. Central Valley (2-0) travels to Lassen (4-2) after losing 46-7 last year to the Grizzlies.