December 04, 2010
Oaks Christian as a general rule does not lose big games. The Lions don't lose many games period, but they become almost invincible come November when the playoffs start. They simply have to many weapons for opposing defenses to cope with.
A barrage of third quarter touchdowns helped give the Lions a 42-33 semi-final victory against a good Valencia team (the game wasn't as close as the score indicates) and yet another spot in a CIF Championship game. This will be an astonishing 8th year in a row that Oaks Christian plays for a CIF title.
Junior running back Ishmael Smith has already started collecting offers, his most recent coming from SMU, and the two-way standout gashed the Valencia defense for 144 yards on just 11 carries. Quarterback Richie Harrington was also outstanding, tossing 5 touchdown passes and racking up 276 yards. However, the star of the night and our player of the week was junior receiver Jordan Payton.
Payton has been sensational all year bringing in 60 receptions for 827 yards and 9 touchdowns, with these numbers coming despite missing 3 games to injury. Against Valencia Payton raised his game to new heights, exploding for 10 catches worth 207 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Payton was simply un-guardable, and he strengthened what is becoming a compelling case for the title of best receiver in the Class of 2012. Against Valencia Payton showed all the skills that make him a world class wide out. Soft hands, fluid route running, a great burst off the line, top-notch breakaway sleep and incredible leaping ability. Valencia simply didn't have a chance of stopping Payton on this night.
"Playing this well and getting this win felt great, this one meant the most to me and the team because people said that we couldn't get to the finals, that we wouldn't even be able to play in the Marmonte League." Payton said.
"That feeling of being in the zone, it's a weird moment. You just feel powerful. As the game goes on, you start to feel unstoppable and you stay to yourself, oh man, I can do anything tonight.
Oaks Christian, a program that is a perennial contender and in discussion as one of the best in the country, is not used to hearing that they can't do just about anything they want on the football league. Despite the big win, Oaks Christian will need another one of Payton's "in the zone" performances on Friday when they face arch-rival Westlake with the championship on the line.
"We wanted Westlake so badly, and now we have them," Payton said.
Westlake humbled the mighty Lions 31-12 back on October 1st, but that will be thrown out the window when the two teams meet again.
"We lost to Serra last year in this game and we've already lost to Westlake once so we want revenge," Payton said. "I will do everything in my power to make sure we don't lose."