By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Valencia Vikings (7-4) are on their way to the Division 5 CIF finals after a resounding 24-21 victory against the Chino Hills Huskies (8-6) on Friday.
The Vikings entered the postseason as the fourth-place team in the Foothill League but have emerged as the top team from the Santa Clarita Valley as they now look to end their season as every high school team looks to end, with a CIF championship.
“I’m just so proud of the kids showing resiliency with our backs against the walls the entire game,” said Vikings head coach Larry Muir. “The kids found ways to fight it out to get those yards to put us in the game-winning position. That comes back to our kids struggling all year and fighting all year long. It takes a special group of kids to do something like this.”
The Huskies did their fair share of damage, producing three first-half sacks, and an interception by defensive back and wide receiver Tyrese Boss. However, the Vikings were able to gash open a score with a 79-yard rushing touchdown from running back Daniel Hernandez midway through the second quarter. The touchdown would be the only score of the first half.
On the first possession out of halftime, the Huskies lead a huge drive, which was capped off by an 11-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Bobby Johnson. Johnson accounted for 49 rushing yards on the drive to tie the game at 7, but took a big hit in the end zone and was taken out for the rest of the game.
Vikings quarterback Trey Erickson would throw his second interception of the game on the ensuing possession, which allowed the Huskies to capitalize with another touchdown and take their first lead of the game midway through the third quarter. This time it was a 6-yard rushing touchdown to Jemar Jackson. Jackson would finish the game with 82 rushing yards.
The Vikings and Erickson remained poised and hit wide receiver Duhron Goodman for a 67-yard touchdown after the quarter break to tie the game at 14. Two plays later, Valencia defensive back Jake Stauffer hauled in an interception from backup quarterback Perry Johnson and took it to the house. The Vikings took the lead, 21-14.
“I read my keys during the play, it comes with practice,” said Stauffer. “I saw the end zone so I just tried to make a play. I love my team. I love football so we got to go 1-0 this week again.”
With the time winding down, the Huskies were able to answer back with third-string quarterback Keanu Vasquez, who hit William Davis for a 6-yard score, tying the game at 21 apiece.
The Vikings would lead another methodical drive and capped it off with the eventual game-winning 39-yard field goal from Cameron Fontal. The Huskies would connect on a huge 24-yard pass to put them at the Vikings’ 30-yard line, but the Vikings held the Huskies on fourth down and closed out the game.
“I got in the first half not doing my very best, but I did everything I could do for my teammates,” said Fontal. “It was a relief to see the ball go in. I tried to stay with it despite missing the first one in the first half. It was extremely satisfying.”