By Matt Lechuga
For The Signal
The Valencia Vikings needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive coming into Friday night’s Foothill League season finale and they did all they could to earn their spot with a 40-14 win over Canyon at Valencia High.
Valencia (5-5, 3-3) used its balanced offensive attack to get ahead and stay ahead of a feisty Cowboys team, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead thanks to a 1-yard dive by senior running back Daniel Hernandez that was set up by a 26-yard pass from Trey Erickson to Jayboe Wilson. That was about it for offense in the first quarter as the teams would trade punts on their next six straight possessions.
However, the Vikings found their footing on the first play of the second quarter when Erickson hit Ralph Testa with a 60-yard pass down the middle of the field for a touchdown, pushing the Valencia lead to 13-0.
After blocking a Canyon 43-yard field goal attempt and recovering the ball at the Cowboys’ 45-yard line, the Vikings went back to work. Erickson found JJ Celentano for a 44-yard gain down to the Cowboys’ 1-yard line where Hernandez finished the drive with another scoring run, pushing the lead to 19-0.
“We know the situation we’re in, we have to win this to get a chance,” said Hernandez. “But also, this week was about the seniors and getting them in to play and I’m so happy all of them got a chance to get in the spotlight.”
Valencia extended its lead to 26-0 on a 7-yard pass from Erickson to Celentano before the Cowboys finally got on the board thanks to receiver Jeremiah Taylor running a short stop route, catching the Caleb Sparks pass, and splitting two defenders for a 68-yard touchdown to make the score 26-7 going into the fourth quarter.
“It’s been a rough road for us but we’re just happy for the seniors, to have a game like this and send them off in the right way,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “We want to be balanced and we did a lot of that tonight. We made a lot of mistakes but I was happy for the seniors who got to perform tonight.”
The Vikings scored twice more in the fourth, a 15-yard pass from Erickson to Jonathan Todd and a 6-yard run from Tyler Corbet, and the Cowboys scored on a 3-yard run from Ganisten Turner to make the final score of 40-14.
“This team has a lot of heart; they play hard regardless of what that scoreboard says,” said Canyon head coach Ken Holsenbeck. “Being able to get that drive at the end just shows the character of this team.”
Valencia will hold its breath until Sunday when the CIF Southern Section announces its playoff pairings.
“Getting the win gets us in position at a chance for an at large,” said Muir. “It was important to get put ourselves in that position and now we just have to cross our fingers and hope we get in.”