Summit Christian Academy's home opener was like no other in the program's short history.
Five years into its program’s existence and three years competing as a varsity football team, the Lee's Summit-based Christian school hosted their first on-campus night game.
If the Eagles needed any motivation after they took it on the chin during a rain-soaked 27-8 loss last week on the road to St. Croix Central, a Class 4 school in Wisconsin, playing under the lights did the trick.
Summit Christian came out poised and focused and scored on four first-quarter possessions as they manhandled University Academy 54-6 Friday night.
The win, and the pomp and pageantry surrounding it, was a perfect time for SCA head coach Dalton Vann to reflect on the program’s journey from five years ago.
“It was emotional because the first year we were here it was one of those things that you wished you had,” Vann said after the team improved to 1-1 on the season. “High school football is meant to be played on Friday nights.”
The Eagles were led on the ground by senior running back Malek Looney, who tallied two rushing touchdowns. Looney’s backfield mate, junior Brett Campbell, accounted for two rushing touchdowns of his own.
Campbell echoed Vann’s sentiments about playing under the lights.
“It was awesome,” Campbell said. “Playing on Saturdays is a little different environment. Under the lights, it feels more normal.”
Looney took a more spiritual approach to describe the feat.
“Honestly, I think it is the work of God,” he said. “All of this is not taken for granted. Everything that happened here tonight was purely all God. It wasn’t even us. He was working through us and we just wanted to show that we deserve to be here and we wanted to thank Him.”
With a college scout watching from the visiting sidelines, strong-armed SCA passer Sam Huckabee, a senior, twice found fellow senior Zach McConnell on scoring strikes to balance out the Eagles’ offensive attack.
Defensive lineman Caden Robinson, a 6-foot-2-inch, 270 pound senior, also caught the eye of the scout. Robinson led a stout defensive effort for Summit Christian, which allowed just one rushing touchdown as the first half came to a close.
The Eagles were up 47-0 at that point.
Week 1 loss aside, the trip north set the tone for SCA’s opener, Vann said.
“I told the guys that they will not know how important Game 1 was until Game 7, 8, 9 and 10,” he said. “That was a tough football game. If I could do that every year I would do it every year. I think it will help us down the road.”
The visiting Gryphons and their traveling party were seemingly barely off the bus before they found themselves in a 21-0 hole nine minutes into the game.
UA trailed 27-0 to begin the second quarter and 47-0 before a late scoring run to close out the first half.
The visitors from Kansas City stood their ground in the third quarter holding the Eagles in check and off the scoreboard until a late fourth-quarter score.
A running clock expedited SCA's blowout. The loss left the Gryphons 0-2 on the young season.
“They came out ready to play and our kids kind of got wide-eyed under the lights and it just kind of overcame us early,” said third-year UA head coach Ryan Heffley. “They are a good football team and if you give a good football team momentum like that it’s really hard to stop.”
SCA started their first two drives at or near midfield to jump out to an early 14-0.
Campbell scored the second touchdown of the quarter on a short run after Looney opened scoring on the first drive.
Looney showed bursts of speed as he helped the Eagles march to the first score. He had several big gains on the opening drive.
The Eagles started their third drive at their 37 after Campbell recovered a fumble.
After a 15-yard personal foul penalty on UA for a horse collar tackle was tacked on to the end of a 41- yard pass from Huckabee to McConnell, Campbell bulldozed his way for a 5-yard touchdown, his second score of the opening quarter.
A successful extra point pushed SCA'S lead to 21-0.
After a UA punt, SCA drove 43 yards for another score as Huckabee found McConnell for a 9-yard TD pass. A missed extra point left the Eagles up 27-0 to begin the second quarter.
Huckabee would find McConnell again on a catch and run into the end zone to help extend the Eagles’ lead to 34-0 with 9 minutes, 37 seconds left before halftime.
A short scoring run from Jon Scire coupled with a missed extra point made it 40-0 with 6:08 remaining before halftime.
Josiah Vigliano’s 46-yard interception return for a touchdown helped put SCA ahead 47-0.
UA would finally punch the ball into the end zone on a third-and-goal run from the 1-yard line by Deonaven McKinzy.
The Gryphons broke out the swinging gate formation for its extra point attempt but the two point conversion run was unsuccessful and SCA led 47-6 at the half.
Looney finished the scoring with another rushing TD to make it 54-6.