Vale’s TJ Speelman (No. 24) grabs Santiam Christian’s Marcus Fullbright (No. 32) during their quarterfinal state football playoff game in Adair Village Saturday. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred)
ADAIR VILLAGE – Santiam Christian’s Marcus Fullbright ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and the Eagles feasted on four Vale turnovers to post a 58-6 victory in a Class 3A quarterfinal football game Saturday.
“Any time we really needed to try to make a play, the ball didn’t bounce our way. They just had some athletes we couldn’t match up with,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.
The Eagles (11-0) built a 36-0 lead at halftime but the Vikings cut the margin early in the third quarter on Jared Fulwyler’s four-yard touchdown run but Vale never regained momentum.
Vale's Jackson Schaffeld wraps up a Santiam Christian player during their playoff game Saturday in Adair Village. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).
“We were overwhelmed a little bit athletically. They had an answer for anything we tried but at the end of the day sometimes you are just outgunned. Sometimes the other team has better players than you do,” said Aldred.
The victory by the No. 2-ranked Eagles sets up a semifinal contest with Burns in Hermiston Saturday.
Burns defeated Clatskanie 14-13 in a semifinal game.
“A few things didn’t go our way early and then some turnovers led to some short fields,” said Aldred.
The Vale offense moves out during their game against Santiam Christian Saturday. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).
Aldred said he was proud of his team’s determination.
“The effort was there. They fought to the very end and there is no shame in that at all. I still like our kids and we have some very solid football players,” said Aldred.
Aldred said two straight weeks on the road may have played a role in the defeat for Vale, which finished 6-5.
“The travel caught up with us a little bit. We were just worn down. But they beat us fair and square,” said Aldred.
Despite the loss, the Vikings once again made it deep into the postseason, a goal the team set early.
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“Not a lot of teams get to play 11 games a year and we did. Our kids played super hard and it was a heck of a year for us to get to the quarterfinals,” said Aldred.
Aldred said the playoff experience this year will pay dividends for the Viking program in the future.
Vale's Trent Aldred (No. 8) tries to get off a block from a Santiam Christian player and tackler the runner. (For the Enterprise/Angie Aldred).
“We will keep doing our thing and putting good, tough hard-nosed football players on the field,” said Aldred.
The loss to the Eagles capped a season of highs and lows for the Vikings. After winning its first two games, Vale faced a grueling schedule against three of Idaho’s top teams – Weiser, Homedale and Gooding – and dropped three straight.
Then Vale racked up three straight victories before the Vikings dropped a 27-8 decision to Burns.
The Vikings defeated previously undefeated Yamhill-Carlton 27-23 in a first-round playoff game.
Aldred said the Vikings will miss the veteran seniors on the team.
“But they will leave a nice legacy for that younger group. There is a lot to build off and I like where we are moving forward,” said Aldred.
Seniors leaving the Viking program are: Fulwyler, Matt McBride, Moritz Rusp, Colton Kesey, Keegan Mizuta, TJ Speelman, Jason Ponce, Jacob Graviet and Jeremiah Daugherty.
Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.
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