Big game isn’t the biggest test at Oaks

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’That’s the paradox at Oaks Christian, established just seven years ago on a campus that puts many universities to shame. Built around athletics from the start, it has won four straight section championships. Yet this week, as it prepares for its biggest game ever, students are buzzing about Spanish tests and thermodynamics. Defensive end Duke Lemmens, 18, who is off to the University of Florida next year, juggles the same stress. He’s on a team led by golden-armed quarterback Jimmy Clausen that hasn’t lost since 2003, a still-much-debated heartbreaker to Oak Park – but he’s hitting the books. “It’s not one of those schools you get let off the hook just because you’re an athlete,” he said. “You have to excel both on the field and off.” During their lunch break Thursday, students stole a few minutes of relaxation after polishing off taco salads and chili fries. A group of boys kicked an empty soda cup back and forth, not far from a crowd doing the same thing with a soccer ball. The projectiles ricocheted around, propelled by Ugg boots and checkerboard Vans. Today, they’ll hold a tailgate party at lunch time, and a player will address the student body. On game day, a caravan will form at 6:45a.m. at the school to head down to Carson to see the Lions take the field at the Home Depot Center. Malcolm Jones will be on the bus leading that procession. A freshman, he plays linebacker and running back, something he’s dreamed of for years. “I’ve been watching games since fifth grade and wanting to go here since the school started,” said the 14-year-old from Agoura Hills. “We’re really big in this neighborhood, so whenever you’re out, wearing your Oaks Christian shirt, people will be like, `Man, you’ve got a great team.”‘ These are huge, much-respected boys, some destined for greatness. Clausen has thrown for more than 10,000 yards and 145touchdowns in his four years with the team, making his name recognizable nationwide. “It’s just a cool feeling because we have math class with those kids,” said Kelly Crommelin, a 17-year-old senior. “We hang out after the game. Everyone’s so starstruck, but they’re just regular guys.” Regular guys who haven’t lost in 45 straight games. Regular guys who’ve been champions four years in a row. Regular guys who inspire nearly unshakable confidence in the student body. “We haven’t lost in so long, I’m not even worried about it,” said Ali Nelson, a 17-year-old senior. “This’ll be a piece of cake.” [email protected] (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WESTLAKE VILLAGE – James Crawford is feeling the heat as he prepares for two daunting opponents: Cardinal Newman and his dreaded physics final. Crawford and other students at the upscale Oaks Christian School have had a lesson in Anxiety 101 – all week long. On Saturday, their undefeated football team will take the field against Santa Rosa-based Newman. Next week, they will take final exams. The mood, to put it mildly, is rather heightened. “It’s gonna be hard on Saturday,” said Crawford, a 16-year-old junior who plays offensive and defensive line and handles long snaps. “There’ll be a few parties after the game, probably, but it’s not going to be a late night, that’s for sure.” last_img
Read More