Clovis News

Clovis West's Brock, Christensen share more than a name

Dad admired McKay Christensen.

He also liked the ring of "Kendall McKay."

So dad got his way and on July 10, 1992, it became official: Kendall McKay Brock had arrived.

And look at him now -- Brock the namesake actually running down records of the Clovis West High legend.

"McKay was idolized in the Valley, the middle name fit with Kendall so I thought, 'What the heck?' " says Bo Brock, the father who was a Golden Eagles fan at the time his son was born and Christensen was playing for the school. "But never was I thinking Kendall would have a chance to break some of McKay's records. It's ended up being a freakish side note to his football career."

The three-year career, barring a state bowl berth, closes tonight on the biggest stage in Central Section football -- a Division I championship matching top-seeded Clovis West (11-1) and No. 3 Bakersfield (10-2) at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The coincidences continue.

It was Dec. 10, 1993, that Christensen finished his career in style, rushing for 130 yards and his 43rd and 44th touchdowns as the 14-0 Eagles defeated previously unbeaten Bakersfield 27-14 before an estimated 13,000 fans at Ratcliffe Stadium.

Before Cal-Hi Sports' State Athlete of the Year signed a professional baseball contract with the California Angels after being drafted in the first round in 1994, Christensen had rushed for 3,018 yards and scored 65 touchdowns in only two seasons. He actually missed his junior year with a knee injury.

Brock has rushed for 2,192 yards and scored 38 touchdowns this year, and has a school-record 4,680 yards rushing and has 61 touchdowns for his career.

Dad shakes his head: "I just liked the sound of the name, Kendall McKay. I was never thinking Kendall would be a running back with a chance of breaking some of McKay's records. I could have never predicted this."

The father, a longtime local high school and junior college football assistant who had stepped away from the game as a coach briefly when Christensen was playing, couldn't have forecast such success for his son even in recent years.

While Kendall Brock has always been his team's go-to back in the Clovis West district -- from Lincoln Elementary to Kastner Intermediate to the high school -- he was tiny and quiet.

He was 5 feet, 100 pounds in fifth grade and 5-6, 150 as a freshman.

"When he was in seventh grade," dad says, "he wasn't that big, wasn't that fast and people always ran him down. I sometimes wondered if he ever would be a player."

This isn't to suggest size is a prerequisite to rushing greatness at Clovis West.

Conversely, the most accomplished backs in school history before Brock had been smallish -- Christensen (5-11, 173), Jose Rojas (5-9, 185), Kyle Duffy (5-8, 175) and Matt Jelmini (5-8, 175).

Brock is now 5-9, 190 -- not large by any means, but fast, powerful and with vision and shifting ability that defines his style.

"If you try to hit him hard, he's going to make a fool out of you," Clovis East coach Tim Murphy says. "He's composed, he knows how to use blocks and he's got lineage."

With a combination of following his father and brother Quentin, a standout running back himself with the Eagles 10 years ago, Kendall has learned by osmosis.

Mix that knowledge with 4.5-second speed over 40 yards, strength that has had him bench press 185 pounds 32 times and a extraordinary feel of the game with ball in hand, and he's a major-college talent.

In fact, in February he'll sign with Nevada, annually one of the nation's leaders in rushing.

"He's a coach's son, he understands schemes and he spends a lot of time watching film with his dad," Parsons says. "Take a pure athlete who's not doing those things and he's still going to be pretty good. Now, with Kendall, you have a great athlete who spends time to learn. When you meet him, he looks like an everyday kid on campus. Then you watch him play and he's not an everyday football player. He's pretty special."

Regarding the impact of his father, Brock says: "I understood defenses before a lot of people knew what a linebacker was. Having him has been a huge influence because he knows so much football."

That said, the son has obvious gifts that can't be gleaned from dad or a DVD.

The same could be said for Christensen. And one well qualified to compare the two is Tadashi Gibson, who ran in the same backfield as Christensen and now assists the Eagles' varsity.

Says Gibson: "McKay had one style -- he ran around you and made you look bad. He was more explosive than Kendall. But Kendall has carried a heavier load, is more of a natural running back and runs with more force. He can shake and bake but, at the same time, he can put his shoulder down and make the defense pay."

Tim Simons, who at Clovis and Clovis North has coached against them both, simply puts it this way:

"They're both great backs in their own way, but not exactly the same style. They're entertaining to watch but not entertaining to coach against."

Correction: When this story was first published it incorrectly listed the year of Brock's birth as 1993. He was born in 1992.