Blade House watched Big Valley Christian's first four games from the sidelines, per the Sac-Joaquin Section's transfer policy, setting up last week's serendipitous start to his junior season.
House made a sparkling season debut in a 42-0 homecoming victory over Turlock Christian, punishing his former team on both sides of the ball.
"It was something of its own," House said of the sit-out period. "I hated it. Of course, it was fun to be there and support my team every day, but at the same time, as a player, I just wanted to get out there."
The 6-foot-1,185-pound linebacker and fullback is a sizable addition to a roster thin on numbers. House hunted the football on Friday evening, racking up eight tackles and two sacks. House also had 42 yards and a touchdown on just four carries, and also hauled in a 23-yard reception from quarterback Gunnar Selover.
"I was pretty nervous before the game. I had the feeling in my gut — the butterflies and the nerves," he said. "That first defensive drive, I was feeling rusty. That's how it is when it's your first game back. Once I was in there, though, I realized that I needed to pick up the intensity. I felt right back at home after the first drive and I was ready to go after that."
House is the American Chevrolet Small-School Athlete of the Week after winning the fan vote. House commanded more than 51 percent of the poll, earning 17,106 votes to distance himself from Hilmar defensive lineman and kicker Miguel Padilla, the hero in last week's 20-17 victory at Escalon; Ripon Christian running back Michael Kamps; and Orestimba wide receiver Tyler Vargas.
"I have great friends and family who were willing to put in time to vote for me," he added.
With an athlete of the week award after just one game, House jokingly admits he's set the bar high for the rest of the season. One thing's for certain, though: The Lions will face a much stiffer test on Friday.
Big Valley Christian hosts defending Central California Athletic Alliance champion Stone Ridge Christian. Last season, the Lions and Knights played in Week 10 for the crown. Stone Ridge Christian won, 24-14 spoiling Big Valley Christian's bid at the school's first 10-0 regular season.
House wasn't a part of that team, but like his performance last Friday, he's adjusted to the speed rather quickly.
"It's huge Stone Ridge Christian, so it's always a competition," he said. "They're always going to give you their best."
Follow James Burns on Twitter @jburns1980, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.