By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Valencia Vikings’ win came down to the final play of the game, a 37-yard field goal that would clinch the game for the Westlake Warriors. The Vikings wanted no part of it and got their hands on the ball to force a block, ultimately sealing the game.
The Vikings (2-2) spoiled homecoming for the Warriors (3-2) on Friday, handling work on the defensive line, giving Warriors quarterback Leo Romero no time to throw and picking off two interceptions before the end of the first half.
The Vikings recorded another first-half shutout, holding the Warriors to under 30 yards through an entire half. The Vikings set the tone early with an interception by middle linebacker Jack Gieser on the Warriors’ first drive, which led to the only score of the first half for the Vikings, a quick 3-yard rushing touchdown by running back Giorgio Spiropoulos.
“I just felt so much for our kids because they had such a great week of practice,” said Vikings head coach Larry Muir. “That was the most important thing, I wanted the kids to feel good about something they worked hard for.”
Entering Friday’s matchup, the Vikings were on a two-game losing streak and had one more chance to end their cold streak before heading into Foothill League play. The Vikings’ goals were accomplished on both sides of the ball.
Defensive back Duhron Goodman accounted for the second first-half interception while also contributing offensively with five catches for 68 yards.
“Goodman is such a special talent,” said Muir. “He does so much for us on offense and defense. He’s a great kid off the field and he’s a blessing to have on our team.”
Despite the first-half shutout, the Warriors roared back in the second half.
On the first drive in the second half, the Warriors forced a three-and-out. On the ensuing punt, defensive back Da’Marrie Smith hauled in the punt and ran all the way to the end zone for a 55-yard punt return touchdown.
The Vikings’ ground game tried to chew out the clock. Despite a second touchdown for Spiropoulos, the Warriors answered once again in the fourth quarter with a 50-yard touchdown bomb from quarterback Leo Romero to wide receiver Mateo Siderman, but failed the two-point conversion.
Despite the efforts, the Warriors would be stopped short twice by Goodman. With time running down on the clock, the Warriors stopped the Vikings and were able to connect on a 40-yard catch, only for it to be knocked out with a forced fumble by Goodman.
The Warriors drove it down for the final play of the game in which the field goal was blocked. Of course, the field goal was also blocked by Goodman. Goodman forced two turnovers (one interception, one fumble) on the game and also sealed the game with the game-winning block.
“I feel like as the game went on, defense had to come out and make plays for our offense because defense wins championships,” said Goodman. “After losing two games in a row we had to come out and win this game. We prepared hard for the past week and a half. Coach wanted us to play as a team and that’s what we did. We had one of our best all-around games tonight.”
The Vikings’ next match is scheduled against West Ranch on Friday at 7 p.m. at Valencia in the first week of Foothill League matchups.