The Valley View Eagles had been in this position before. Last season, they opened their playoff campaign with a matchup against Chico. They won that game 68-20.
So after the Eagles demolished Chico for the second straight year on Thursday at Bobcat Stadium in Krum 69-19, they were handed the bi-district trophy.
But last season, Valley View fell in the next round, so this time around, the Eagles aren’t getting lost in the glow of the gold football trophy.
“I think the main thing is kids always love a trophy, and that’s good, but I didn’t want to make it something great because they’ve gotten this trophy the last three years in a row and I don’t want them to think it’s good enough,” Valley View head coach Alan Kassen said. “That’s not what we want for these kids.”
The Eagles (10-1) posted 407 yards of offense, led by 179 rushing yards from Clint Epperson, who finished with four touchdowns with quarterback Brady Jackson going 8 of 13 for 109 yards passing along with 67 yards rushing for a total of four touchdowns.
Kassen was impressed with the balance the Eagles displayed and said the passing game was preparation for the tougher teams they might face down the playoff road.
“I think our ability to throw the ball certainly put Chico back and opened up our running game immensely,” Kassen said. “Our ability to have a two-minute, 80-yard drive mostly out of passes is something we’re really doing for the future, not for the game tonight.”
Epperson didn’t just do damage in the running game, he also opened the game’s scoring with a dynamic play on defense — a 92-yard interception returned for a touchdown 3:14 into the game — a first in his career for Epperson.
“It was fun,” Epperson said. “It felt good. I noticed the last time they ran the play, they threw it behind me right after I ran past the guy and this time I read it and slowed down. I grabbed it and ran. Once I scored, everybody got hyped. Everybody was alive again. It kind of triggered everybody. I think it went a lot better this time around. Our linemen got better blocks and it just seemed like a smoother game. Our offense did pretty well.”
That play sparked the team after Chico (4-7) had a solid start to the game and Kassen said if the Eagles are going to hang against better teams in the future, they need a better start to the game.
“For us, we have to start better if we are going to be successful,” Kassen said. “We’re going to have to get tougher. The bottom line is we’ve played teams and made mistakes that didn’t hurt us, but those are going to be game changers against better teams. We can’t just rely on our athletic ability. We have to rely on our ability to be smarter football players.”
Still, the play by Epperson was a product of some research and scouting before Thursday’s tilt.
“We had been working on some of Chico’s passes this week, so we knew kind of what to expect,” Kassen said. “When they got in certain formations, we were pretty sure what they were about to throw. You could tell the kids really studied their scouting report.”
With 1:52 left in the first quarter, Jackson found Cale Kassen for the 18-yard touchdown to put Valley View up 14-0.
Just 26 second into the second quarter, the Eagles padded their lead to 20-0 when Epperson took a 58-yard run in for a touchdown.
Chico scored less than a minute later on a 62-yard run by Nico Starnes, but that would be all the scoring it would do in the first half.
Epperson’s 6-yard touchdown with 9:10 to go in the second quarter improved the Eagles’ lead to 27-7 and Jackson added a 6-yard touchdown run of his own to move the score to 34-7 with 7:35 left to go in the first half.
Jackson then broke loose for a 51-yard touchdown with 5:09 to go to make it 41-7 and then found Zackery Mitchell for the 9-yard touchdown to give the Eagles the 48-7 advantage with 1:11 left in the half.
Valley View football
The Eagles weren’t done scoring as Epperson added his second pick-6 of the game to send Valley View into the half up 55-7. Epperson finished the game with three interceptions.
Taylor Doughty added an interception of his own and Kyler Lindsey paced the defense with a team-high five tackles, including two for a loss and one sack.
“I thought Kyler Lindsey stepped up,” Kassen said. “Every week he does really good things at middle linebacker. He’s kind of the brains of the operation out there. He sees things differently than everybody else. It’s going to be hard to replace him next year, because he’s such an intelligent football player.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com
or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip
it get real this week.. Crawford aint no Chico!