Jaden Casey’s first thoughts as he stood near midfield at game’s end likely summed it all best.
“That was a real football game,” said Calabasas High’s starting quarterback. “How long has it been since I’ve been in a real football game? That was a great game against a great team and it was back and forth all night. It felt like a playoff game. I don’t know if I’ve ever played in a game quite like that.”
The Thursday night matchup between host Calabasas and Valencia was a real football game that was real dramatic, real exciting and, really, unbelievable.
Valencia and Calabasas combined for 128 points, seven lead changes and nearly 1,400 yards in offense. There were nearly 1,000 passing yards alone.
In the end, the fireworks went Calabasas way.
Casey, a sophomore starting just his fifth varsity game, threw for 553 yards and eight touchdowns, including the go-ahead score on a 43-yard hookup with Nikko Hall with 8:43 remaining, as Calabasas hung on for a heart-pounding 65-63 victory at home.
Casey’s eight touchdown passes were a program record and put him in select company. He becomes only the sixth quarterback to throw eight TDs in a CIF-Southern Section contest.
He said his teammates picked him up all game long. Casey not only needed some mental toughness to win a game with more ups and downs than a year on the Dow Jones, he absorbed a number of hard shots from Valencia defenders.
“My teammates kept telling me to stay strong and do my best,” he said. “I knew they were there for me. I knew they would make the plays.”
Casey completed 26 of 53 attempts for 553 yards and touchdowns of 47, 30, 15, 54, 70, 1, 43 and 10 yards. There were five touchdown passes in the second half, as Calabasas raillied from deficits of 42-30, 49-37 and 56-51.
He also had two interceptions.
Johnny Wilson caught nine passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Hall notched six receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns and Mycah Pittman caught five passes for 72 yards and three touchdowns.
Hall’s 54-yard grab sliced the deficit to 42-37 with 3:17 left in the third period. His 43-yard scoring catch gave Calabasas the lead for good at 56-51 with 8:43 remaining in the third.
“You just keep playing the game,” said Hall. “No matter what the score, we’re just going to keep playing until there’s 0:00 on the clock. Obviously, it’s a great week. We feel pretty good to beat such a great football team.”
Calabasas was undeniably pretty exhausted, too.
Lineman Mykee Irving went both ways on a bum ankle.
“I’m cramping up right now,” he said at game’s end. “It’s a game that meant a lot to us, so I told myself to keep pushing. I was pushing all the way to the end.”