VALE – The Viking grid squad will face a familiar opponent in a first-round Class 3A playoff game Friday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. when they take on Santiam Christian at Vale High School.
Vale earned post-season play Friday night with a dominating 59-0 Eastern Oregon League victory over Nyssa.
In Class 1A post-season play, Adrian (6-3) will face Camas Valley (4-3) Saturday, Nov. 4, at Noon at Adrian High School. The Antelopes defeated Union, 56-24, Friday, Oct. 27 to finish out their season.
In Vale, the Viking defense held Nyssa (2-2) to minus 38 yards for the game and feasted on turnovers to build a 39-0 lead after the first quarter.
Kase Schaffeld paced the Viking run game with 69 yards on six carries while quarterback Colten Stepleton finished the night with 63 yards on the ground and 51 yards passing.
The Vikings scored just minutes into the first quarter on Stepleton’s touchdown run and Skyler Cade’s conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Stepleton then hooked up with Damick Eddy for a second touchdown at the 7:59 mark of the first quarter and Spur Jacobs ran the conversion in for a 16-0- Vale lead.
Vale (8-0) scored three more touchdowns – two off Nyssa turnovers – before the end of the first frame. Vale led 46-0 at halftime.
“I can’t give this group enough credit for coming out and doing exactly what they were asked to do,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.
Vale defeated Santiam Christian, of Adair Village, 46-6 in the first game of the season but Aldred said both teams have evolved since.
“Honestly, that being our first game, there are quite a few things different now. It will be the same players but the opponent side of it will be different. They will be better at some of the stuff they do,” said Aldred.
Aldred said Santiam Christian (7-3) will be a tough opponent.
“They are going to have a good, solid game plan. They won’t beat themselves. We have to give those guys the level of respect they deserve. They’ve played a tough schedule and they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” he said.
Aldred said he likes where the Vikings are at in terms of health and focus.
“We are about as balanced as we’ve ever been,” he said.
Aldred said the Viking defense averages giving up only six points per game for the season. Vale’s offensive line is also performing well, said Aldred.
“We’ve only given up one sack in eight games,” he said.
Aldred said in playoff football the key is fundamentals.
“You have to play very disciplined defense. Offensively when the opportunity comes up to score we have to punch it in the end zone,” he said.
For the Vikings, the opening round of the playoffs has a special significance. Stepleton, a senior, said the Vikings have played “with a chip on their shoulders” since the quarterfinal loss to Kennedy High School in 2022. The sting of that loss, a two point, 14-12, defeat, lingered, said Stepleton.
Stepleton, the team captain, said the Vikings feel good about Friday’s game with the Eagles.
Like his coach, Stepleton believes the Eagles will be a different, and better, team than the squad Vale faced in its first game.
“They have a whole year to get better and we’ve had a year to get better, too. So, it should be a good match up,” said Stepleton.
Haueter said the expectation is for the Vikings to win in the playoffs.
“There’s a lot of pressure but we expect to win a lot of games,” he said.
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