Mike Parsons didn’t have the greatest of coaching runs at Clovis West High, but he returned to Modesto Christian older and wiser, bringing back one very important lesson.
Keep it simple.
In his first home game with the Crusaders since the 2009 season that ended with a state bowl championship, Parsons never took his offense or defense out of its base formations. He didn’t have to as MC pounded McNair 76-16 in Friday night’s non-league game.
“Coming out of Clovis West I promised myself that we would run our base stuff at MC,” said Parsons, whose team is 2-1. “I couched myself out of games at Clovis West by trying to get clever and to run too much stuff while the kids got confused. The goal here is to run our base stuff and get the kids used to the idea of creating an identity.”
How this for a blueprint - a running attack capable of rolling up 507 yards on the ground while averaging a shade better than 11 yards per carry, and a defense more than up to the task of grounding McNair’s high-flying offense. The Crusaders picked off seven Eagles’ passes - all in the first half as they rolled to a 63-8 halftime lead.
Through it all, some individual standouts emerged from among the 19 players who dressed for the Modesto Christian varsity.
Quarterback and safety Luke Andrew scored on a 1-yard rush, a 75-yard fumble return and a 43-yard interception return. Zach Schott rumbled for 131 yards and a score on on 16 carries.
And then there was sophomore Chris Brown, who before being slowed by leg cramps in the second half made his varsity home debut one to remember. He scored on runs of 22 and 75 yards, returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown, and broke off an 82-yard kickoff return for his fourth touchdown of the first half.
The onslaught left the Crusaders in a quandary. With a 55-point halftime lead, and facing a McNair team that turned down the opportunity to play the entire second half with a running clock, how do they keep the scoring down?
“It’s tough not to let up when you see the scoreboard,” Brown said. “You tend to slack off. but Coach Parsons keeps preaching to us to never let up and to keep pushing the whole game.”
And Parsons was wondering the same thing.
“You’re on the sidelines thinking about taking a knee or maybe asking somebody to fumble,” Parsons said. “You get that deep into your own head.”
McNair continued to throw the ball, and even attempt an onside kick with 3:46 left in the third quarter after scoring to make it 63-16. Eagles’ quarterback Osai Brown, who didn’t start the game, finished 20 of 40 passing for 308 yards and five interceptions.
“It wasn’t due to a game plan of any kind, it was all just base stuff,” Parsons said. “We worked all summer on route-reading and the kids have picked that up, especially Andrew.
“On offense for the most part we’re going to run our stuff, get our athletes the ball and see what happens. That was the lesson I took from Clovis West.”