A suffocating Viking defense paid dividends last weekend as Vale rolled over Sutherlin 49-7. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)
VALE – It was vintage Vale Viking football.
Saturday afternoon the Vikings punished, bruised and dominated Sutherlin to post a commanding 49-7 victory in first-round Class 3A playoff action.
The win sets up a rematch with Burns Saturday at 1 p.m. in Burns in a second-round playoff game.
“Everyone was on the same page. And I think we were more physical than they were,” said Viking running back Mat McBride after the game.
McBride’s performance – 114 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns – characterized the Viking attack against the Bulldogs on a clear and sunny afternoon.
“Uptempo was the emphasis and it always is but we wanted to be more efficient,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.
Vale quarterback Colton Kesey was 10 of 11 for 176 yards and the Vikings established jurisdiction early and never looked back.
“We didn’t mess around,” said McBride.
The Vale squad Saturday in no way resembled the group that lost to Burns two weeks ago in the final game of the season. Burns posted a 26-6 win against an uncharacteristically mistake-prone Viking team that never managed to find a rhythm.
The Burns game, though, appeared to be but a mirage from the past as Vale’s offense began to click on the first series and spent four quarters wearing the Bulldogs down.
“They are a very physical football team. They came out super physical and that’s who they are,” said Bulldog head coach Josh Gary.
After the Burns game, Aldred said the Viking coaching staff went back to the basics.
“During the week we were doing stuff you do in the second week of practice. Our kids embraced it. They could have let doubt creep in (after the Burns loss) but they didn’t,” said Aldred.
Vale’s offense thrived and defensively the Vikings paralyzed the Bulldog attack.
“Defensively every time you looked up there was a wave of black around the football,” said Aldred.
Vale’s Tanner Hamilton scored two touchdowns in the game while Kesey and Kade Haueter each added scores in the lopsided win.
“I told the kids before the game I wanted them to show what Treasure Valley football is all about,” said Aldred.
Treasure Valley – and especially Viking – football was a brutal elixir Saturday as everything Vale did worked.
The Vikings (6-4) set the tone early, taking the opening kickoff 50 yards in five plays to take the lead when Kesey hooked up with Hamilton on a 31-yard touchdown toss.
The Viking defense stymied the Bulldogs on their first possession and forced Sutherlin to turn the ball over on downs inside the Vale 44-yard line.
Five plays later, Kesey’s 1-yard touchdown put the home team ahead 14-0 with 5:51 to go in the first quarter. Late in the first stanza Hamilton’s touchdown gave Vale a 21-0 lead.
McBride’s interception return midway through the second quarter pushed the Vikings ahead 28-0. McBride’s 25-yard scoring run just before intermission pushed Vale out in front 35-0.
Sutherlin scored just seconds before halftime – on Jake Merrifield’s four-yard run – but that was the extent of the Bulldogs offense for the game.
Vale’s dominance continued through the second half and the Vikings amassed 415 yards of total offense for the game.
Sutherlin produced 250 yards of total offense over four quarters.
“Guys made plays today. There were just so many individual efforts,” said Aldred.
With the first-round victory in the bag, the Vikings now must prepare for Burns. Burns defeated Hidden Valley 28-21 last weekend in first-round playoff action.
“They are a good team,” Aldred said of the Hilanders.
Aldred said he believes the Sutherlin victory will help the Vikings this weekend.
“I think we have our confidence back,” said Aldred.
Aldred said Burns (9-1) played an “almost perfect game against us at home.”
“Honestly Burns played good. But I feel confident in our kids,” said Aldred.
Aldred said he is looking forward to the Burns game.
“What more can you ask for to play a league rival in the quarter finals,” said Aldred.
The Burns-Vale game is slated to begin at 2 p.m. (MT) at Burns High School.