Editor’s Note: This is the first of daily stories over the next month previewing the 2019 Stanislaus District high school football season.
Big Valley Christian senior running back Javyn Drobnick has heard from the doubters: “He plays in the lowest division. His numbers don’t mean anything.”
In 11 games in 2018, Drobnick rushed for 2,211 yards and 26 touchdowns. His rushing yards were 19th in the state and third in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
No matter what division you are in, rushing for over 2,000 yards is still impressive.
“It’s a daily thing,” Drobnick said about the criticism. “You hear that stuff all the time but if you think about it, if you are a good enough running back, you just let the stuff go and keep working hard.”
After winning a Central California Athletic Alliance title last year, the Lions return Drobnick, who said he spent the off-season in the weight room getting stronger and working on his quickness on the field.
“Everything I do is training for football,” Drobnick said. “I got a new diet and a new trainer for workouts.”
The 5-foot-7 running back said he received interest from UC Davis and the coaches told him he needs to get faster and trim down because if he were to be an Aggie, they would switch his position to nickelback.
Besides helping his team advance in the playoffs (Big Valley hasn’t won a playoff game in the previous two years), Drobnick has his eyes set on the Stanislaus District single-season rushing record of 2,851 yards by Oakdale’s Will Semone in 2016.
He isn’t the only key returner for the Lions.
Senior linebackers Blade House and Caleb Van Donselaar also are back.
House played in only seven games last year after transferring from Turlock Christian but led the Lions in tackles for a loss (12.5) and sacks (4.5) while Van Donselaar battled multiple injuries and was limited to seven games as well.
“(Blade) is just an animal and he is physical and big-bodied,” Lions third-year coach Brian Berkefeld said. “When (Caleb) was hurt, it hurt us on defense a lot. He makes a lot of the calls and is one of the captains of the defense. This year offensively, we want him to have a major impact with the ball. He is another explosive player that we can plug into our offense and it gives a 1-2 punch with him and Javyn.”
Under Berkefeld, Big Valley Christian is 18-4 and has seen the size of its roster increase, including this year when Berkefeld expects to have over 40 players on varsity. The Lions suited up under 30 most games last year.
“It’s the fact that the kids have a desire to be great,” Berkefeld said. “They are the ones that have put in the work in the off-season. Two weeks after we lost the playoff game (to Golden Sierra), we were lifting weights.”
They also received a couple of transfers from big-time programs:
Juniors Zach Aloisio (Oakdale, safety), Brandon Carothers (Modesto Christian), Spencer Cox (Modesto Christian), and Marcus Lima (Modesto Christian) have all joined the team.
Big Valley Christian is in the interesting case of playing in Division VII where sometimes Div. VI schools are dropped into their division for playoffs like last year.
To prepare his team for schools with bigger enrollment, Berkefeld has scheduled three of the Lions first four games against higher division schools (Riverbank on Aug. 24, Le Grand on Sept. 6, and at Waterford on Sept. 13).
School: Big Valley Christian
Record: 9-2, 6-0 in Central California Athletic Alliance
Players to Watch: Senior running back Javyn Drobnick (2,211 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns), senior linebacker/tight end Blade House (62 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss), senior running back/linebacker Caleb Van Donselaar (48 tackles, four tackles for a loss, four sacks)
Biggest Game: Sept. 6 vs. Le Grand
Something special about school: New weight room opened in the spring; tri-tip sandwich is popular.
Playoff appearances last five years: 2018: Lost in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. VII Semifinals to Golden Sierra 2017: Lost in Div. VII First Round to Woodland Christian 2016: None 2015: Lost to Stone Ridge Christian in Div. VII Championship 2014: None