Valencia heading to Division 2 semifinals after rout of Norco

NORCO — Putting up crooked numbers and finishing games with running clocks was par for the course for Valencia in the regular season.

Through two postseason games, it’s done nothing to shift the status quo.

The Vikings are headed to the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 semifinals for a second straight season following a 70-35 win Friday at Norco. The 70 points constituted a season high and was the second time in school history they scored at least 70 points. They’ll travel to Heritage next Friday in the Division 2 semifinals.

“This team is really special,” said Moises Haynes, who rushed for four touchdowns on the night. “Coach (Larry) Muir has been saying that all year. We have something special and we know that.”

The Vikings (11-1) set the tone on the opening kickoff on a lengthy return from Jake Santos and a subsequent 5-yard rushing touchdown from Haynes just 47 seconds into the game.

Jayvaun Wilson injured his right ankle on their second play from scrimmage, but the Vikings backfield picked him up in the first half, with four different players logging rushing touchdowns.

Santos, Luring Paialii and Connor Downs added rushing scores in the scoring frenzy, with Downs also connecting with Mykael Wright on a 42-yard touchdown to put the Vikings up 39-14 at the half.

“I told (Jayvaun), ‘We’ve got this game,” said Haynes, who consoled Wilson on the trainer’s table shortly after the injury. “I told him that I’m going to need him next week.”

Haynes lived up to his word, rushing for 241 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns in the first half. Norco had 211 yards of offense as a team in the half.

The Cougars (7-5) flashed their greatest sign of life by taking the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown.

Valencia shut the door on any comeback thoughts, though, as Haynes punched in a 2-yard rushing touchdown the following drive. Joshua Deneal then tipped a Nick Lasher pass to himself in the end zone for a pick-six on the ensuing possession.

“I thought we did a great job of matching their physicality,” Muir said. “I can’t say it enough: This was a team effort on all levels.”

The Vikings wouldn’t leave Norco without a special teams touchdown either, with Santos blocking a punt that Deneal scooped up on the Cougars’ 2-yard line for a touchdown.

Haynes scored from 18 yards out the previous possession after a punt return from Wright set them up in the red zone.

Valencia entered the fourth quarter with a 70-21 lead as Norco added on two late scores with a running clock in effect. Norco running back Travis Dye (Oregon commit) exited the game in the first half with an injury.

Muir didn’t have a postgame update on Wilson, who also stars in the Vikings secondary, other than saying he rolled his ankle. Junior linebacker Jaylen Anderson also exited the contest in the first half with an apparent knee injury.

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