'Starting fresh'

Aug. 31—MOSES LAKE — Moses Lake Christian Academy and Covenant Christian School are breaking new ground on the football field.

"Eighty-five to 90% of our kids have never played football," said head coach Aaron Noble. "So we've been doing everything we can to get them up to speed."

MLCA has 203 K-12 students, according to the Washington Federation of Independent Schools, while Covenant has 152. They've both had sports programs, and have combined forces for the last several years, but football was never a part of either one. Noble, who took over as pastor and administrator at Covenant, had previously coached football in Oregon, he said.

"Around Christmas time, it kind of hit me that our kids needed it, that it could help build our culture, help strengthen community," he said. "(It could be) a way for our kids to learn emotional toughness, mental toughness, apply themselves and work together ... Once we decided it was something we wanted to do, we just hit the ground running and started raising as much money as possible. And here we are."

Between the two schools, the Lions were able to field 19 boys, enough to maintain a team in the eight-man classification. The Lions will be competing in the Central Washington B division in their inaugural season, playing their home games at Lions Field in Moses Lake.

There are some challenges to blending two schools and starting a new sport, said senior Rubin Ulyanchuk, who plays quarterback and safety.

"We're starting fresh," he said. "It's all new teammates getting together, trying to work together, trying to get our plays down, timing, stuff like that."

"I think we're looking good," said Brandon Schober, another senior who plays defensive and offensive lineman. "Our team chemistry is great. We've got great morale."

That morale, the spiritual side of the game, is the most important part of the program, Noble said.

"The three principles we're building our program off of are accountability, relentless effort, and competitive excellence," he said. "Ultimately, our program is about strengthening young men that glorify God in everything they do."

The teamwork is beginning to coalesce on the field, Ulyanchuk said, which is encouraging.

"When we trust each other, and we know how to run that play, we know that when the person is running the ball our offense will block the defense," he said. "That chemistry starts building when we get those plays down. You win games like that."

"We're very green, but our kids are working hard," Noble said. "Our biggest thing is having a winning attitude. And we're more concerned with glorifying God with our behavior, and competing in a way that glorifies God."

Joel Martin may be reached via email at

MLCA/CCS Football Schedule

Sept. 2 — vs. Bridgeport — 6 p.m.

Sept. 8 — vs. Pateros — 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 — vs. Soap Lake — 6 p.m.

Sept. 29 — @ Tekoa-Rosalia — 3 p.m.

Oct. 5 — vs. Entiat — 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 — vs. Oroville — 6 p.m.

Oct. 21 — @ Waterville-Mansfield — 6 p.m.