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September 22, 2014

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Valley defeats Rancho to secure playoff spot

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Kyle B. Hansen

Valley wide receiver Mitchell Deas runs with the ball during Thursday’s game at Rancho.

Valley at Rancho

Rancho's Zach Foulkrod (1) tries to dodge Valley players during Thursday's game at Rancho. Launch slideshow »

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Forget Halloween. What excited the Valley Vikings the most about the upcoming three-day weekend was practice on Saturday morning.

The Vikings needed to win their game against Rancho -- and for Eldorado to lose to Las Vegas -- to clinch a berth into the Sunrise Regional playoffs, otherwise their season would be over.

While Las Vegas cruised to a victory over Eldorado, Valley had to hold off a spirited second-half comeback by the Rams to win 41-33.

"We talked about it all year -- about putting ourselves in the playoffs and never giving up," Valley head coach John Ewell said. "Our kids don't quit, we just play hard."

At first the Vikings dominated the Rams, going up 34-7 halfway through the third quarter. But four consecutive scoring drives by Rancho put it one possession shy of tying the game.

The situation has been a recurring nightmare for Valley, as it has seen two seemingly insurmountable early leads turn into losses this season.

However, after a Kerwnyn Williams punt pinned the Rams on their own 2-yard line, the Valley defense put an end to Rancho's scoring spree and secured the win.

"We wanted to clinch a playoff berth and we really needed to win this game," Williams said. "[The defense] knew that, put it all on the line and went out there and got the stop."

The Vikings' running game contrasted Rancho's aerial assault. Valley had 300 yards on the ground with Williams going for 170 yards and three touchdowns and senior tailback Malcolm Wilks contributing 54 yards and two scores.

Rancho, on the other hand, relied on the arm of senior quarterback James Cammack. Cammack completed 23 of 47 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores were thrown to senior receiver Dijon Homan, who had eight receptions for 161 yards.

Both teams are headed to the playoffs. Rancho had already clinched the second seed of the Sunrise Northeast, behind Las Vegas, while Valley's victory secured it the fourth and final seed of that division.

However, while the Rancho coaching staff was tearing into its team for losing the seniors' final home game of the season, Valley was brimming with optimism.

"You can beat anyone in town. We just have to go one week at a time," Ewell told his team.

"This will really be the first time that I'm going into the playoffs as head of the team," Williams said. "I was always younger, moving up from the lower levels, playing on the team. Now we're going in strong and we're going to try and get some victories."

Rancho will host Del Sol at home, while Valley travels to Basic.

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