West Ranch football (8-0, 4-0) defeated the visiting Vikings (4-4, 2-2) at Valencia on Friday, 23-16.
The Wildcats were powered by running back Tyler Scott, who finished his night with 10 carries for 132 yards and 2 TDs in his first game of the season.
Each team had early turnovers to start the game.
Vikings running back Daniel Hernandez struggled early with fumbles on Valencia’s first three drives.
Hernandez would clean up the fumbles and keep powering Valencia’s run game throughout the game. The senior would score Valencia’s only TD of the first half on a 1-yard rush.
Wildcat quarterback Ryan Staub would throw a pick on the Cats’ second drive and a second later in the half.
West Ranch got moving once Scott got the ball. The senior scored on back-to-back touches with a 32-yard and 4-yard score. Scott was then somehow caught after breaking free for a huge 79-yard rush.
Staub did the rest of the work, sneaking in the 1-yard rush to go up 20-6.
Scott is a transfer who was also recovering from an ACL injury. The game was his first in quite a while and the senior showed out.
“I missed it,” said Scott. “It’s been a year in between games. It felt so good, this win means everything.”
Vikings kicker Cameron Fontal would make it 20-9 just before the halftime break with a 35-yard field goal.
Both teams came out and played strong third quarters, with each team entering the fourth scoreless in the half. Fontal had a chance to be the only scorer in the third but just missed from 35 yards out.
Valencia was kept at an arm’s distance for the majority of the game but had an excellent two-minute drill. The passing game led by quarterback Trey Erickson got the team down the field. Erickson ran a solid 7-yard rush to get the team on the Wildcat 2-yard line but the senior’s helmet popped off on a tackle.
Erickson was forced to exit, leaving backup Jackson Askins less than a minute with 2 yards to go. The Vikings opted to throw the ball, showing trust in their backup, and it paid off. Askins hit Ralph Testa for the 2-yard score for Valencia’s second touchdown of the game.
The Vikings would attempt an onside kick to steal the game but West Ranch would recover and go into victory formation.
The Cats have now been pushed in consecutive weeks. The undefeated Wildcats narrowly beat Hart 20-14 before beating the Vikings.
“We definitely had a learning experience last week against Hart,” said Staub. “We made some adjustments. We had a great week of practice and it showed.”
West Ranch made big plays all over. On top of Scott’s big running night, Staub hit wide receiver Maverick Diaz eight times for 81 yards. Cats receiver William Seidel also hauled in six catches for 62 yards.
Staub was again lights-out but had a few hiccups to his receivers. The Colorado commit threw his first two picks of the year against Valencia. Staub still finished 20 of 37 with 224 yards passing.
“We really did [get pushed] but we responded and did what we had to do,” said Cats head coach Chris Varner. “I think we can definitely clean some things up but when we had to make a big play, we made a big play on both sides of the ball. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The Wildcat defense stuffed the Vikings’ run game all night on top of forcing the three early fumbles.
Valencia will head into its bye week but has a matchup with Hart circled next on the calendar. West Ranch will continue the journey in pursuit of an undefeated season Friday, Oct. 14, when the team hosts Golden Valley.
“Defense was lights-out as always,” said Staub. “They say defense wins championships and that’s what they’re going to do.”