SBHS Vikings tether Eagles in 63-26 victory

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

In a match-up marked by plodding resolve, egregious turnovers, and heated exchanges, the St. Bernard High School Vikings grounded the Eagle varsity squad Saturday night 63-26 at SBHS.  The Bernard victory was not unimpeded however, as the Eagles executed a series of impressive first down upon first down drives based on tried and true running plays and agile running backs Anthony Charles and Dylan Hall.

Early in the first quarter, the Viking offense blundered in a missed hike, which led to the loss of 15-yards, but such Bernard errors were rare for the duration of the game.  Bernard was first to show on the scoreboard with a touchdown and successful field goal.  The Verbum Dei High School defense kept the Vikings mid-field for the remainder of the quarter, owing much to key tackles by senior linebacker Avery Crump and Charles. As the roar of jumbo jets from adjacent Los Angeles International Airport filled the air, a VDHS possession and the first in an impressive series of first downs on a scoreless drive ended the quarter 0-7.

The second quarter began with a Verb possession, but the squad faced a strong Viking defense.  A string of punchy running plays culminated in a long pass to running back Hall, who deftly caught the ball after it bounced off the hands of a Viking defender.  Hall’s touchdown brought the score to 6-7.

The marauding Vikings responded with a 57-yard kick return for a touchdown and successful field goal. A loose ball by the Verb offense resulted in a scramble, but after being juggled between two horn-clad Vikings, Bernard retained possession of the ball and scored, bringing the lights to 21-6.  The post kick off Verb possession near its own goal line was hard fought with the Eagles clawing only 10-yards in their efforts against the formidable Bernard defense.  The subsequent Viking possession led to touchdown pass and unsuccessful field goal attempt, ably blocked by the Verb defense.

A sustained Verb possession brought the half to a close.  With 5:25 remaining in the half, an Eagles offensive drive began deep in Verb territory.  Short passes and handoffs to running back Charles moved the squad down the field to a first down.  That first down was the beginning of a quick series of successful first downs, including a pass completion to Crump for a 16-yard gain and another running play gain of 15-yards.  Only 43-seconds remained on the clock when a successful reception by Charles resulted in a Verb touchdown.  The unsuccessful conversion attempt that followed brought the Eagles halftime score to 12-27.

The third quarter began with a number of Eagle missteps.  A Viking pass interception, a 43-yard touchdown run, and a successful conversion added lights to the Viking scoreboard.  An Eagle fumble, recovered by the Vikings deep in Verb territory, resulted in another Bernard touchdown and successful field goal, bringing the numeric lights to 42-12.

The post kick off Verb possession was true to form for the night with a quick series of successful ground plays dependant upon stalwart running backs Charles and Hall.   The successive first downs were halted by a Viking interception at their 20-yard line.  Impressive tackles on Viking running plays by Verb senior corner back Eddie Molina and safety Caylin Moore slowed progress as the Vikings sailed downfield toward another touchdown.  A successful field goal gained scoreboard insurance for the Bernard squad at 49-12.

Verb began yet another quick sustained drive with first downs gained upon the running backs of Charles and Hall with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. A touchdown and successful conversion by Charles illuminated the scoreboard 20-49. The Vikings retained a lighted 56-20 cushion on the board, the result of a quick touchdown and field goal drive of their own.

The remainder of the game included a handoff to Verb’s Crump, who showed the power, strength, and determination that has been a hallmark of his play this season.   Plowing through the Viking defense, Crump scored the final Verb touchdown, followed by an unsuccessful Eagle conversion attempt.  The score was 26-56 when Eagle junior Marquis McNeil quashed a potential Bernard touchdown on the kick return by grabbing the foot of the ball carrier and bringing him down mid-field.

A Viking pass completion resulted in a touchdown and successful field goal brought the game to a close with a final score of 63-26.  The Eagles, 2-3-0 in league play and 5-4-0 overall, will take on Cantwell-Sacred Heart High School in their final Del Rey League game of the season at 7:00 P.M. on November 4 at C-SHHS in Montebello.

Faculty/staff run/walk for Homeboy Industries

Verb faculty, staff, and friends and family support Homeboy Industries in the 2nd Annual Run/Walk for Homeboy 5K Saturday, October 29.  Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, Homeboy Industries founder, is pictured at far right.  Photographer unknown

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

Several Verbum Dei faculty and staff participated in Homeboy Industries 2nd Annual Run for Homeboy 5K held October 29 at the California State Historic Park near Chinatown and Homeboy’s headquarters.  Father Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of the organization that provides direction and meaningful work for at-risk youth and adults, walked alongside the athletes who ranged from first-timers to veteran runners.  The event, a fundraiser for the various gang intervention programs of Homeboy Industries, is reputed to reinvest 75% of registration fees into supporting the lauded organization.

Approximately 500 runners, walkers, and a fair number of dogs participated in the morning run around the circumference of the historic park.  Representing Verbum Dei were Principal Dan O’Connell, Cristina Cuellar-Villanueva of Corporate Work Study, Paul Hosch of Development, John Stradley of the English Department, Michael Putnam of Campus Ministry, Ronda Eddy and Yvonne Woods of Finance, and Martinique Belgarde of College Guidance.  Various friends and family members joined the Verb team in support of Homeboy Industries.  Top times for the Verb contingent on the 3.2 mile course were garnered by Putnam (4th in age category and 15th overall with 21:11.6 minutes) and O’Connell (17th in age category and 70th overall with 27:47.5 minutes).

Verb’s participation in the 5K was the culmination of more than a month of preparation by faculty and staff that included semi-weekly training runs/walks around Ted Watkins Memorial Park north of the campus.  Some participants utilized “From Couch Potato to 5K” training programs found on the internet to schedule their conditioning.

“Homeboy Industries free support services focus on case management, education (including Opportunities for Learning Charter High School), job training and placement, legal services, mental health counseling, twelve step meetings, pre-release and transition counseling, and tattoo removal,” according the event web page.

200 VDHS Eagles land at St. Mary’s Academy

Verbum Dei sophomores (from left to right) Jaime Muñoz, Alexander Velazquez, and Bryan Moreira mingle with St. Mary’s Academy students following pep rally and fun, friend, and fund-raising activities in an annual sister school meet and greet October 28.  Photo by John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

By Christian Rubi, Class of 2013

Last Friday, nearly 200 students from Verbum Dei High School, paid a visit to Saint Mary’s Academy. During their visit to S.M.A, the Verb gentlemen participated in a very cheerful pep rally in the S.M.A. gym and in other activities provided by the S.M.A. ladies. Ms. Martinique Belgarde, college guidance counselor at Verbum Dei, began the rally. A former S.M.A. lady herself, Belgarde found it easy for her to interact with the crowd. The pep rally included many fun activities; a crowd favorite was the dance competition.  Verb junior McCartney Ibanez danced the crowd into near hysterics with his unique moves, which included break dancing and a hat tip-off of his S.M.A. opponent.

From the gym, students went to the campus courtyard and parking lot, where the S.M.A ladies had prepared many activities. One of the most popular activities was the water balloon toss.  Any person could buy a water balloon and try to hit a target, which framed either a Verb or S.M.A. teacher. Another activity that was held after the rally was an obstacle course. Students had to jump rope, hula-hoop, eat ice cream, and run back to the finish.

One of the S.M.A. women said that she had an amazing time; she said that whenever the guys from Verb come over, the entire scene changes.

Overall, the trip to S.M.A. was a wonderful time for the Verb students. They had fun with the S.M.A ladies, and many cannot wait to go again.

Mary Star falls in 43-27 loss as Eagles rise

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

The Verbum Dei Eagles overtook rival Mary Star of the Sea High School October 14 in a spirited, and, at times, contentious 43-27 victory at Daniels Field in San Pedro.  The Blue and Gold’s offense was heavily dependent on the running game, but quarterback senior Caylin Moore took the game heavenward with successful passes at critical moments.

Although leading at the beginning of the 2nd quarter 13-7, Mary Star faltered defensively in the opening minutes, allowing a mid-line gap for runningback Dylan Hall to penetrate for a short-run touchdown.  Conversions were the Eagle order for the day, and senior Hall brought the additional points.  Mary Star responded with a long run. Though tackled near the goal line by senior cornerback Aaron Carrington, Mary Star brought the score to 20-15.  Effective passing and running plays added an additional Eagle touchdown and conversion.

Defensively impenetrable, the Eagles kept Mary Star scoreless and mid-field in the critical waning moments of the first half.  A Mary Star pass interception allowed the team possession with 17 seconds remaining.  Feeling resolute pressure from the Verb defensive squad, Mary Star threw a series of incomplete passes and ultimately attempted a 28-yard field goal, which flew wide, leaving the score 23-20 at the half.

The third quarter began with a remarkable show of power by Verb senior fullback Avery Crump who plowed through the Mary Star defense, dragging several players with him for an additional 10 yards on the return.  Verb’s running game began in earnest in the third quarter, as a hand-off to runningback Dylan Hall and three consecutive hand-offs to runningback Anthony Charles led to a touchdown and unsuccessful conversion.

Bringing the score to 27-29, Mary Star fought back with a series of successful running plays, aided by a 10-yard pass interference penalty against Verb.  A Verb offensive drive picked up momentum with five minutes left in the third quarter.  A quarterback-keeper with stand-in QB Dylan Hall began the drive.  Anthony Charles carried the ball down the field to Mary Star’s four-yard line.  Hall ran the ball for a touchdown, bringing the score to 35-27.  A failed Verb conversion ended unsuccessfully with a backfield tackle.

The Eagles scored once more in the forth quarter, while Mary Star, ending the game with no additional lights on the scoreboard, struggled offensively.  The Eagles, 4-3-0 overall and 1-2-0 in Del Rey League play, will take on LaSalle High School Saturday, October 22 at 5:30 P.M. in their Homecoming game at LA Southwest College Stadium.

Urban Plunge offers Verb students brotherhood and opportunity for insight on LA homelessness

Verbum Dei Fall Urban Plunge team enjoy brotherhood and the joy of being men and women for others. Photographer unknown

By Joseph Sanchez, Staff Writer

A group from Verbum Dei High School, made up of nine students and three moderators, recently went on the Fall Urban Plunge. An Urban Plunge lets each student leave the satisfying safety of his comfort zone and truly experience the inner-city in an exhilarating three-day service trip. Student participants included Joseph Sanchez (’12), Luis Cardenas (’12), Juan Medina (’12), Abraham Cardenas (’13), Aaron Ruiz (’13), Adan Fernandez (’13), Jonathan Salazar (’13),  Christian Gutierrez (’14), and Carlos Castro (’14). Moderators included Mr. Putnam, Ms. Frankovic, and Ms. Villanueva.

It started Friday afternoon with a dinner for the men at the Guadalupe Homeless Project (GHP). The Guadalupe Homeless Project is based at Dolores Mission Church in East Los Angeles, where approximately 70 men sleep on cots inside the church. Verb gentlemen cooked a delicious dinner of spaghetti, vegetables, salad, and garlic bread for the men; dinner was followed by some mouth-watering ice cream. Listening to the men talk about their situations and their lives, students shared dinner with the men of the GHP.

On Saturday morning students headed over to St. Francis Center to prepare breakfast for those in need. After cracking over 600 eggs in preparation for the meal, students served food to nearly 200 people. Afterward, the group headed over to Homegirl Café and had a spectacular breakfast themselves. Homegirl Café, a division of Homeboy Industries, helps women in dire situations escape and gives them a chance to turn their lives around. The next stop was Midnight Mission, but first students were given a guided walking tour of skid row. Not only did students learn that skid row extends from Main Street to Alameda Street and 7th Street to 4th Street, but they also learned about “dual diagnosis” and that the majority of the homeless are men.  Once at Midnight Mission, participants were given a tour by one of the employees, a former Midnight Mission client. He was able to provide the group with an “insider’s” perspective to daily life of a homeless person in skid row. All Verbum Dei students listened attentively as he explained the reality of the men and women of skid row. The tour was followed by work in the kitchen. All students and moderators helped prepare food for the individuals who came to Midnight Mission for dinner.

After a hard day’s work students enjoyed Domino’s pizza and tasty yogurt from Yougurtland.  The group reflected on the experiences of the day and shared its reaction to what was seen, heard and done. No Verb Service Plunge is complete without the late night fun and games. Once participants returned to the sleeping room at Dolores Mission School, they enjoyed each other’s company with games including mafia, catch phrase, fish bowl and others. On Sunday morning, students cleaned the  room, attended mass at Dolores Mission Church, and enjoyed some delicious Mexican food prepared by the mothers of the 4th grade students at Dolores Mission School. The Service Plunge was a great opportunity to be men with and for others while strengthening the brotherhood enjoyed by Verb gentlemen.