Warriors wear down Serra
Thunder and lightning delayed this CCS Open Division playoff game between the Serra Padres and Valley Christian Warriors from a Saturday night game to a Monday night game in San Jose. The weather was tamer but there was still plenty of excitement as Serra tried to avenge an earlier season blowout loss. The Padres had the early momentum but fell short 31-20.
On the opening kickoff, Padre Erich Wilson took the ball at the 2 yard line and weaved his way 98 yards for a Serra 7-0 lead. Valley Christian responded on its drive as a key completion by quarterback Zach Vaiana to receiver Michael Deans for 29 yards put the Warriors in the redzone. Senior running back Darelle Jones converted a 4th and 3 at the Serra 7 yard line and then took it in for a 1 yard touchdown dive and a 7-7 tie.
The on-field thunder and lightning show did not end for the first quarter as Serra took their next possession and was stalled on a 4th and 4 at the Warrior 48. But on the punt, the Warriors were called for encroachment that would allow the Serra offense back on the field. Quarterback Andrew McAlindon wasted no time as he connected with Jordan Satterwhile for a 43 yard pass on a flea flicker to give Serra the 14-7 lead
Valley Christian's next possession had them driving down the field. But Padre Joey Erdle intercepted Vaiana's pass at the Serra 27 and was able to return it for 22 yards. Serra then went to the ground game as Wilson went for 18 yards and then McAlindon kept the option and went left for 33 yards and the touchdown. But the PAT was missed to give Serra a 20-7 lead.
The rest of the second quarter saw Valley Christian taking advantage of opportunities while Serra squandered theirs. The Warriors were forced to punt on their next possession after gaining one first down. The Padres picked up two quick first downs and looked prime to really put some distance from the Warriors. But Warrior linebacker Justin Buller was able to make an interception on a tipped pass to stop the Padre drive at the Warrior 45. Valley Christian then methodically drove 55 yards on six plays that were capped by quarterback Vaiana running it in from two yards to cut the lead to 20-14.
Serra's next possession was quick as Warrior defensive end Bryan Houp stepped in front of a screen pass to intercept it at the Serra 16. The Warriors were able to move the ball down to a 1st and goal from the 6 yard line. But they ended up having to settle for a field goal and a 20-17 deficit. Serra's final possession of the first half had them starting at their own 39. Once again, Serra was driving deep into Warrior territory but an interception by defensive back Joseph Jahn ended the half at 20-17.
The third quarter went by really quickly as Valley Christian took half the quarter to methodically score a touchdown on a 17 yard reception by receiver Brian Fobbs to give them a 24-20 lead. Serra was able to drive their third quarter possession into Warrior territory. Wilson ran right and looked to have scored on a 30 yard touchdown run. But a holding call nullified the touchdown and caused the Padres to punt. The Warriors got the ball back with little time left in the quarter.
Valley Christian continued the drive into the fourth quarter and got a key 23 yard run by Jones to convert on a 4th and 4 from the Serra 33. Sophomore running back Ryan Severson then ran right for a 10 yard touchdown to cap the scoring at 31-20. The rest of the fourth quarter had Serra turning the ball over on downs as they were shut out in the second half. In addition, midway through the fourth quarter saw the rain drops starting.
How this game was won: Valley Christian had fewer key turnovers and penalties. Serra let too many opportunities slip away during the game. With junior standout running back Byron Marshall suspended from this game, Valley Christian still had more than enough weapons in the running and passing game to offset his absence.
Turning point: When Serra was up 20-7 and driving for a three score lead, the Warrior defense was able to come up with the turnover. If Serra would have been able to score, then it would seem all the momentum was with them. However, Valley Christian stopped them on that possession and then forced another two interceptions on the subsequent two Serra possessions.
Serra offensive highlights: Wilson had 11 rushes for 80 yards plus that kickoff return touchdown. Sophomore Eric Redwood had 5 rushes for 40 yards. McAlindon had that 33 yard rushing touchdown and threw for 122 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Valley Christian offensive highlights: Three capable runners emerged for the Warriors in Marshall's absence. Jones had 16 rushes for 102 yards with one touchdown. Junior fullback Jarrod Lawson had 13 rushes for 94 yards. Sophomore running back Ryan Severson had 14 rushes for 75 yards. All three runners acknowledged that the offensive line was effective in creating running lanes. Quarterback Zach Vaiana passed for 126 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Defensive highlights: Both defenses were inconsistent in the first half. But Valley Christian's defense stepped up in the second half to shut out Serra and to seal the game for them.
Serra game summary per Coach Walsh: Coach Walsh was proud of his seniors even in defeat. He felt the running game was effective but the defense was unable to make key stops. Penalties and turnover hurt the team. Walsh felt that the team had to play a perfect game to win but fell short of that.
Valley Christian game summary per Coach Machado: Coach Machado felt that Serra came to play and had a good game plan against his Warriors. But he is proud of his kids who rose above the challenges and came to play tonight. The coaches made adjustments in the second half on defense but he feels that the Warrior defense has been overlooked throughout the year.
What is next for Valley Christian?: Coach Machado acknowledged the shortened week and expects a good Palma team. He also praised Byron Marshall for being very supportive during the week even though Marshall was to be suspended for the game. But adding Marshall back to an already potent backfield should give the Warriors more weapons in their Palma game.