Every Thursday night, each Valencia football player fills out a “commitment card.” The player commits to do one thing in the coming week, whether it’s at practice, at home or at school.
For the Vikings’ Ben Seymour, this week’s commitment for the game against Mater Dei of Santa Ana was easy:
“I just wanted to leave it all on the field, like have no regrets and make sure nothing is left in the tank,” he said.
Despite losing to the Monarchs 44-6 on Friday night at Valencia in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, Seymour got his wish.
Mater Dei (9-2), the No. 2 team in the nation according to USA Today, scored on two consecutive drives to open the game. First, Glenn Harper punched it in from the 1-yard line with 8:09 left in the first quarter, then quarterback Bryce Young connected with Harper for a 50-yard touchdown with 5:33 to go in the frame.
“Trying to tackle the quarterback Bryce Young,” said linebacker JimE DeYoung of the biggest challenge Mater Dei presented. “He got little steps and the jukes in. He got me.”
Harper scored on a 4-yard scamper with 10 minutes left in the second quarter to put the Monarchs up 21-0.
Mater Dei forced a three-and-out on Valencia’s next drive. On the Monarchs’ ensuing drive, however, the Vikes’ Ben Seymour blocked a punt that set up JimE DeYoung for a quick 1-yard touchdown run four plays later. The Vikings (7-4) failed to execute a 2-point conversion afterwards.
“I was surprised I scored I didn’t know I was about to score, but I stepped back, saw a huge gap, people reaching, you know, and that hole was wide open to the end zone,” DeYoung said. “It was like, open to the daylight. All green and everything like that.”
Josh Doyle broke up a Young pass on Mater Dei’s next play, but Young quickly recovered and threw a 60-yard strike to Cameron Gardner to make it 28-6 with 4:13 to go until halftime.
On the other side of the half, DeYoung recovered a fumble to turn the momentum in the Vikings’ favor. Four plays later, Mater Dei’s Dean Neeley forced a turnover and took off toward the end zone, only for a waiting Seymour to force yet another fumble.
Valencia was unable to assemble a scoring drive, though, and was forced to punt.
The defense held the Monarchs scoreless in the third quarter, but with 10:56 left in the game, Josh Lorick returned a punt for a touchdown to make it 35-6.
Mater Dei scored one final time when Harper went on a 33-yard scamper with 8:33 remaining on the clock.
“I’m super proud of all of my teammates,” Seymour said. “We knew it was going to be tough going in and we knew we had to fight and we gave them our best shot. That’s all we wanted from this game. We just wanted to give them our best show and that’s what I felt like we did.”