NEWTOWN – If everything plays out in Robert Vilardo’s favor, his Miami Valley Christian Academy football team will have some proud signage on their new field to be built in Short Park in 2016.
The team that Vilardo built with a ball, some yard markers and a lot of blood, sweat and tears is poised to make its second straight appearance in the Ohio high school state tournament. In the most recent computer rankings in Division VII, Region 26, the MVCA Lions are ranked first in the state.
“I can’t avoid people telling me; everybody tells me,” Vilardo said. “We still have five weeks to go and a heck of a schedule. We have some tough games coming up.”
This season, Vilardo upped the ante with his schedule taking on bigger schools and succeeding. The Lions own wins over Lockland, St. Bernard, Deer Park, Summit Country Day and Clermont Northeastern.
“Playing a Deer Park, Summit and CNE, they have a lot of kids compared to us,” Vilardo said. “They’re a lot bigger than us and stronger than us.”
MVCA’s signature win may have come Sept. 18 against Summit Country Day. In a shootout, both teams scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, with several scores coming under the five-minute mark.
When the Silver Knights took a lead in the final minute, the Lions came back with senior quarterback Bransen Vilardo firing the ball down field toward senior James Heaton. The pass was deflected and seemingly intercepted, but Heaton ripped it away from the defender and went 51 yards to victory.
Final score: MVCA 35, Summit 30.
“I don’t know if ‘legitimize the program’ are the right words, but playing a Miami Valley Conference team is a big thing to us,” Vilardo said. “It’s a good football team that’s beaten some big football teams. As far as our short history, that was our biggest win.”
Heaton is the team’s top receiver out of the backfield and second-leading rusher. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound plus Vilardo leads the team in rushing.
Outside of senior Lukas Moreland mowing down opponents on the offensive and defensive line, Bransen Vilardo may be the next biggest on the scales.
Bransen Vilardo has been skilled enough to receive Ivy League inquiries based on his grades and abilities. However, whenever MVCA takes their final snap in Division VII, the quarterback will be done.
After spreading the football around the field, this Lion has other news to spread beyond a 100-yard rectangle. His next play is being a missionary in Israel.
“That’s his calling,” Vilardo said. “Mom and I are very supportive of it. We’re believers and we believe this is what God’s calling is for him to do.”
Until then, the Lions will keep coming with a roster of 21. The team is healthy and hungry and hoping to make it beyond one tournament game in November.
“The goal is to be the absolute best football team” Vilardo said. “That takes time. At some point back in the day, St. X started with whatever they started with. Highlands was the same way and Elder was the same way. They had to start some place. We want to make the playoffs and advance in the playoffs.”