Eagles talon-grip playoff berth with 46-10 win over Cantwell-Sacred Heart High School

Running back Jacob LaRue benefits from a strong screen as he gains yardage during the decisive 46-10 Verbum Dei win against Cantwell-Sacred Heart High School in Montebello, Friday, October 25.  Image by Marcel Viens, Verbum Dei High School

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei 

Reversing a long history of defeat at the hands of the Cantwell-Sacred Heart High School Cardinals, the Verbum Dei Eagles varsity squad flew over their Del Rey League
opponent with a score of 46-10, Friday, October 25.  The sometimes contentious homecoming game at CSHHS was thrilling to watch, and it showcased the gritty determination and winning resolve that has become the hallmark of Verb football.

Reciting St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity, the Eagles took the field marching in ranks
from under their goalpost – territory that was to be largely untrodden by Cardinal cleats during the game.  The night’s Eagle offensive juggernaut began with Tyler Frey’s 37-yard kickoff return and continued with a series of running plays resulting in several first downs.  Jacob LaRue and Christian Pimental carried the ball down the field in lurches and sprints; Pimental, who would ultimately garner the MVP for the game, emerged from a Cardinal dogpile with a three-yard gain resulting in a critical first down. Davir Hamilton – once while carrying one half of the Cardinal squad along with him – joined LaRue in moving the ball deeper into Cantwell territory.  Ultimately, Pimental would get the honor of scoring the first touchdown of the game.  With four minutes remaining in the quarter, LaRue carried a successful conversion to bring the lights to 8-0.

David Castillo brought down his Cardinal opponent on the kick return, and a Cantwell
drive downfield was aided by a personal foul penalty against the Eagles.  Verb’s defenders took a strong stance deep in their own territory.  The defensive pressure was so great that the Cardinals threw an incomplete pass to a wide-open receiver; however, the Cantwell field position allowed a successful field goal from the Verb 13-yard line.  With little time remaining in the first quarter and the scoreboard reading 8-3, Tyler Frey sprinted 63-yards on the kick return.  A LaRue carry brought the ball to Cantwell’s 30-yard line to end the quarter.

The second quarter continued with Hamilton carries to a short run goal position, and again, Pimental was given the honor of scoring from the Cantwell two-yard line.  Hamilton’s successful conversion at the corner of the end zone brought the score to 16-3. The Cantwell kick return ended abruptly at its 26-yard line with a spectacular tackle by sophomore Omar Soto.  The Cardinals then took to the air with a series of incomplete passing plays.  A Nigel Beckles tackle helped to interrupt the Cardinal’s flight path, and the subsequent turnover on downs presented another scoring drive opportunity to the Eagles.

Hamilton carried the ball 60-yards, deep into Cantwell real estate.  Beckles ran an additional 10-yards, and LaRue carried for another Eagle touchdown. Another successful conversion by LaRue brought the score to 24-3.

Edwin Suro’s kickoff for the Eagles went deep.  The Cardinals slogged out to mid-field with a series of short gains.  A pass completion and a personal foul call against Verbum Dei moved the line of scrimmage into Eagle territory.  With five minutes remaining in the half, tackles by Jabril Frazier and Gregory Woods and a force out of bounds by Castillo held the Cardinals and slowed their advance toward the Eagle’s end zone.  An incomplete Cardinal pass and another Frazier tackle brought a fourth down.

Cantwell decided to run rather than punt, and a highly disputed force out of bounds call allowed the Cardinals a first down within scoring range.  Cantwell’s scoring drive and subsequent field goal were successful, yet the “Home – 10” digital readout on the scoreboard would be unchanging for the duration of the game.

A short 15-yard kickoff return by Frey, a series of dogged carries by Hamilton and
LaRue, and an off sides penalty necessitated an Eagle punt.  Returning to familiar mid-field territory, the Cardinals tried a series of frantic pass attempts, which ultimately led to an interception by Zachary Burge.  The final Verb possession of the half resulted in a touchdown by Hamilton and a successful conversion by LaRue.  The score at the half was 32-10.

The second half began with a litany of tackles: Pimental on the kick return at mid-field
and Beckles and Woods on running plays.  Cantwell, again roaming familiar turf, allowed a turnover on downs at the Verb 34-yard line.  The following scoring drive featured carries by LaRue and Hamilton; a Verb touchdown and follow-up conversion by LaRue brought the score to 40-10.

As Cantwell attempted to regroup, strong Eagle defensive play kept the red birds on the ground.  A Chase Moore tackle on the return, followed up by shared and individual tackles by Pimental, Burge, and Castillo kept the defense busy.  Frazier swatted down a high pass, forcing Cantwell to punt.  LaRue gained 65-yards on one carry and punched through the Cardinal offensive line to score.  A failed conversion attempt left the score at 46-10.

Again mid-field and in disarray, Cantwell struggled. Frazier and Woods had back-to-back sacks before the clock began to run for the duration.  Hamilton carries – one long, one short – eventually led to a turnover on downs.  The Cardinal possession began at mid-field, but personal foul penalties against both teams kept the action confined between the 40s.  As the clock readout diminished, Cantwell was unable to consistently complete passes and remained bogged down mid-field.  Ricardo Fragoso added his name to the game’s defensive stats with a late game sack.  A Moore interception sealed the score at 46-10 with 44-seconds on the running clock.

The decisive, vindicating win earns the Eagles a CIF Southern Section playoff spot against a favorable first round opponent. With the win, the Eagles bring their Del Rey League record to 4-1 and 6-3 on the season.  One final league game remains in the regular season. The Eagles will take on Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, Friday, November 8 at 7:00 P.M. on their home field at LA Southwest College.  Halftime festivities will recognize and honor athletes from the Class of 2014, whose exploits and spirit on the gridiron have contributed to a record season.

Upstretched arms by stripe-sporting officials were a common sight during the VDHS Eagles 46-10 season wind-down game against CSHHS in Montebello.  Image by Marcel Viens, Verbum Dei High School


VDHS varsity Eagles dehorn Vikings 48-12 in dramatic SBHS homecoming spoiler

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

Solidifying its reputation as the team that a reasonable school should not invite to its homecoming, the Verbum Dei Eagles trounced the St. Bernard Vikings, their Del Rey League rival, Friday evening.  The 48-12 victory was a dramatic reversal from the teams’ last meeting two years ago, when the Vikings tethered the Eagles 63-26.

As a full moon rose over the main school building behind the stadium, junior Tyler Frey started the game in grand fashion with a 70-yard kickoff return.  That auspicious start was tempered by a Verb fumble, which gave the Vikings possession at their own five-yard line.  Bernard pushed back with a 26-yard completion, but mirrored their opponent with a turnover fumble.  The Eagles mid-field drive began with a 30-yard run by freshman Davir Hamilton, continued with two quarterback keepers, and culminated with touchdown by Jacob LaRue, whose deft running has been impressive all season.  A razzle-dazzle play featuring a quick series of hand-offs – quarterback Evan Rambo to LaRue to Hamilton – resulted in a successful conversion to put Verb in lights on the scoreboard 8-0.

With 5:11 remaining in the quarter, the Vikings kick return brought the ball mid-field.  Jabril Frazier and Nigel Beckles created what Coach Miller deemed a “Verb sandwich” in sacking the Bernard quarterback for a 12-yard loss. After the turnover on downs, Hamilton continued to amass yardage with an impressive 83-yard touchdown run.  Another successful conversion brought the score to 16-0.

Junior Chase Moore dashed the Viking’s hopes of getting some illumination on their own scoreboard with a dramatic interception in the final moments of the first quarter, yet the Vikings had a brief reprieve with another Verb fumble.  An Eagle possession and a series of running plays by Christian Pimental, Hamilton, and Rambo ended the quarter.

On a sloppy field that seemed more a peat bog in places than a gridiron, the second quarter began decisively with a 42-yard pass from Hamilton to receiver Frey, who sprinted to the end zone.  Hamilton, the newly placed aerial component of Verb’s formerly non-existent passing game, has made his diverse skills known since his first start last week.  The successful conversion punched through by LaRue brought the score to 24-0.

After the kick return, the Vikings gored their way onto the scoreboard with a 61-yard run followed by a quarterback keeper touchdown.  An unsuccessful conversion brought the score to 24-6.  The Eagle possession that followed the kick return was marred by a holding penalty, but ended well with a 53-yard touchdown run and subsequent conversion by LaRue.  Verb shored its lead to 32-6.

In the final minutes of the half, the Eagles were both glorious and inglorious: inglorious in a face mask penalty and glorious in an impressive tackle by Zachary Burge and in a gritty defensive stand on their own 6-yard line that resulted in a Bernard turnover on downs.  A scoring drive fueled by dogged runs by LaRue and Hamilton brought the Eagles to the Vikings one-yard line.  Hamilton punched through for both a touchdown and a successful conversion, bringing the score to 40-6 as the half loomed near.  The Vikings attempted to regroup after their kick return, but tackles by Burge and Frazier brought the half to a close.

The third quarter passed with no change of the lights on the scoreboard as both teams slogged it out in the muddy mid-field.  Fine defensive play by the Verb squad kept the Vikings in check including a sack by sophomore Omar Soto for a Bernard 8-yard loss.

An Eagle possession began the final quarter.  Pimental ran for 48-yards – his longest run of the season – followed by an 8-yard carry by LaRue.  Freshman Steven Anderson had the honors of running the remaining three yards for a touchdown and successful conversion.  With jumbo jets intermittently roaring from the runway of adjacent Los Angeles International Airport, the score was 48-6.

A Kirk Smith tackle on the Viking return left the Bernard squad in familiar mid-field territory, but shortly thereafter a successful 37-yard pass completion brought the Norsemen to the Verb seven yard line with three minutes remaining on the clock.  Verb’s defensive squad put up a strong goal line stand, but the Vikings punched through for their second and final touchdown with one minute remaining.  A failed conversion attempt ended the game with the score 48-12.

With the win, the Eagles bring their Del Rey League record to 3-1 and 5-3 on the season.  The squad will face Cantwell-Sacred Heart High School, Friday, October 25 at 7:00 P.M. at C-SHHS in Montebello as the regular season draws toward its close. 

Homecoming, 2013: A testament of spirit and resolve


By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

A week of school spirit and celebration of all things Verb ended Friday night at the
Verbum Dei High School home field at Southwest College, but did the spirit end then and there?  I think not.

There is a new mindset evident in the varsity football squad this year. The squad’s 2-1 league record says much; however, that better than average record is only a part of the story.  In years past, the varsity football teams have been prone to becoming discouraged when the tide of a game goes against them.  While most teams begin their games with exuberance and zeal, those positive manifestations can and do fade rather quickly when the fates deal an unwelcomed hand. Starting well is easy, but finishing well requires commitment, resilience, and, yes, spirit.

The 2013-2014 varsity team has all of those qualities and more. Behind 21-14 at the half, Verb rallied to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.  It was a narrow lead at that time, 42-40, and the clock still showed ample time for a LaSalle scoring drive.  But the Verb defense did not throw in the towel, did not give up, rather it stood its ground yard by yard with determination and focus.

From my vantage point in the stands, it was inspiring to see.  There is a refreshing spirit alive and well at Verbum Dei High School in the form of a tireless squad – many playing both sides of the ball – in a quarterback who would just as well be the one receiving the passes rather than the one sending them aloft, and in a team that generally refuses to give up or to let an adversary run roughshod over them.

I am not alone in recognizing this spirit, for after the squad’s narrow defeat, many of the dozens of the diehard spectators stood in solidarity with their team as the recited St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity:

“Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your will.”

A standing ovation accompanied the close of the prayer in recognition of the team’s valiant spirit, its never-say-die resolve, and its gritty determination in the face of adversity.

Coach Miller is to be commended for fostering a new mindset in the varsity squad.  They, under his influence, see the power of teamwork and of a positive attitude.  When the breaks were beating the boys, they found the resolve to continue and see the game through to the best of their ability. In doing so, they did Saint Ignatius and their school proud.

Present Dei Puzzler contest returns with a brain-teasing trio of mind-benders

Current Verbum Dei gentleman and staff are encouraged to demonstrate their logical prowess in this latest contest.  “These are problems anyone can solve,” say the Whites.  “They do not require any particular level of mathematics or other knowledge.”

Rules:  Answers must be submitted to Mr. White, Mrs. White or Mr. Stradley by Friday, October 25.

Prizes:  There will be a $5 award per problem to the first student with the correct answer.  Additionally, there will be a $1 award given per problem to a student whose name is drawn from the pool of correct answers.

Note to faculty and staff:  Feel free to enter to win bragging rights.  If no correct student answer is submitted, you will become eligible for the cash prize.

Problem 1:

Ms. Odom painted each rung of her
ladder a different color and leaned the ladder against a wall. The middle rung
is blue, the yellow rung is 3 rungs above the blue rung, the green rung is 7
rungs below the yellow rung, and the red rung is 11 rungs above the green rung.
The red rung is also 3 rungs from the top rung. How many rungs are there on Ms.
Odom’s ladder?

Problem 2:

Suppose the positive even numbers
are grouped in the following way:

{2}, {4,6}, {8,10,12},
{14,16,18,20}, …

What is the sum of the numbers in
the 15th group?

Problem 3:

Form six 9-letter words by combining two 3-letter blocks below with the endings in the
grid.  All blocks will be used.  If you do it correctly, two of the vertical columns will spell a common two-word phrase.