The 2016 Football teams have exploded into the season. Combined scores of 86 to nothing for the Varsity with a very healthy roster.
In week 1, the Lancers faced Arleta who experienced one of the best seasons last year in the LA Section Division 1. They were no match for the Grace defense and offense was on all cylinders immediately. The 47 to zero final could have been much worse without an early running clock. Quarterback Nick Juels completed 13 of 15 pass attempts for 4 TDs and 285 yards. Receiving those TD throws was Noah Bean (2), Karl Knisely and Canaan Chandler. Tyrese Gholar led the ground game with 60 yards and a TD followed by Aaron Morris with 29 yards and a TD. Defensively Bean added a 31 yard interception return and Stanley and Paula combined for 16 tackles to lead the Lancers aggressive defense. Arleta was only able to muster 5 first downs and 58 total yards.
Check out photos by Barry Ziehl at this link: http://barryziehl.zenfolio.com/GraceVersusArleta2016
Week 2 was Rivalry week for Grace and Heritage Christian. The Lancers earned a decisive victory and kept the shield which is the reward for the victor each year in the "Battle for the Shield". Quarterback Nick Jules threw for 170 yards on 12 of 18 and 2 TDs both of which went to Noah Bean. Leading the rushing charge this week was once again Tyrese Gholar with 67 yards and 2 TDs followed by freshman Josh Henderson with 40 yards on 4 carries. Gholar also scored on a 31 yard interception return and Aaron Morris returned his interception 59 yards for a score. Andrew Kennelly and Dassani Freeman led the tackle sheet with 9 each and while Stanley and Blake Cargnel each added 8.
Check out photos by Barry Ziehl at this link: http://barryziehl.zenfolio.com/gracevsheritage2016
This week presents a whole new challenge as Grace takes on Sierra Canyon for the first time ever. To say the two programs have been rolling is an understatement. Grace is 28-1 over the last 3 seasons and Sierra is 28-3. Grace's only loss was in the 2014 CIFSS championship game and Sierra's losses were also in a CIFSS championship game and a CIF State Championship game. I asked Coach Henderson how he felt about the team's level of preparedness and being an underdog for the first time. "First, we have executed very well on both sides of the ball this year but we realize that both opponents were overmatched. We can't control that and we don't focus on whether we are going to win or not. I realize that Sierra Canyon is going to be favored to win but neither my players or myself see us as underdogs. We are fully prepared for this battle and we believe we are going to come out victorious."
The JV team has had their own blowout victories with a combined score of 110 to nothing; 63 vs Arleta and 47 vs Heritage Christian. Week one featured a strong running game while week two expanded on the passing game. Kai Tinker leads the Lancers on offense and is both running and throwing well. Natty Witt was the week 1 leader with multiple scores on the ground. Kai Tinker broke for 2 scores against Heritage Christian and Payton Gourley had 3 TDs. The JV team's roster changes each week as some players move up and down to support the varsity. Regardless, the future looks bright for Grace football.
The JV faces a similar challenge as the varsity heading into Trailblazer territory. I asked Coach Zele about his thoughts regarding this opportunity. "I'm excited about where we are. We have dominated on defense and we have a very talented freshman class. We've had two different rosters in two games and our work against the varsity in practice has us ready for this challenge."