By Victor Corral Martinez
and Ryan Menzie
Signal Staff Writers
The Valencia Vikings’ historic football playoff run ended with a 45-38 loss to Scripps Ranch High School at the CIF Regional Championship Bowl Game for Division 2A on Saturday.
The Vikings last week won a CIF Southern Section championship by beating Oaks Christian, earning the opportunity to play for a state championship. Had they beaten the Scripps Ranch Falcons, a San Diego team with a single loss during the season (12-1), the Vikings would have competed for the Division 2A title next weekend.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, the dreamlike season has come to an end, but not without silencing any doubts that may have existed about the team.
“We made our share of mistakes on both sides of the ball,” said Vikings head coach Larry Muir. “When you get in the state playoffs, you better bring the best version of yourself.”
In a game dominated by offense, the Vikings found themselves in a quick 17-0 hole, which was fueled by two interceptions thrown by Vikings quarterback Trey Erickson before the end of the first half. The Falcons were able to capitalize, with one of the scores being an 85-yard bomb from Falcons quarterback Jax Leatherwood to wide receiver Conor Lawlor.
The Vikings were able to avoid the first-half shutout with a 28-yard pass from Erickson to wide receiver Duhron Goodman. Goodman would finish the game with two touchdowns.
“I still knew that we had a lot of fight left,” said Goodman.
Goodman and the Vikings’ fight helped score another touchdown, this time from 17 yards out to tighten the score 17-14 on the first possession out of halftime.
Despite 22- and 19-yard scores from Vikings running back Giorgio Spiropoulos in the third quarter, the Vikings had no answer for Leatherwood and Lawlor, who would score two more times before the end of the quarter. The Vikings held on to a slim 28-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter to set up what was going to be a dramatic finish.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Leatherwood would find Lawlor for his fourth and final score of the game, this time from 81 yards out and making the score 31-28. The Vikings would still remain poised in the seesaw affair and would quickly answer again with a 19-yard pass to Don Ray Hall to make the Vikings’ lead 35-31.
With still no answer for Leatherwood, who threw two more passing touchdowns, the Vikings found themselves in a late 45-35 hole. A crucial turnover on downs for the Vikings helped set up the final touchdown for the Falcons, so the Vikings’ only choice was to kick a 42-yard field goal to make the score 45-38 and to keep it a one-possession game with three minutes left in the fourth.
The onside kick was no good, ultimately sealing the game and the historic rollercoaster season for the Vikings and all of Santa Clarita Valley football.
“I’m proud of these guys from where we came from during the season,” said Muir. “We had some frustrating moments but our kids kept going and they got better.”