The Vale defense proved to be the key element in a 14-6 victory over Rainier Saturday. (ANGIE ALDRED/Special to the Enterprise)
KELSO, Wash. – There is the old football adage that defense wins championships and Saturday Vale used its defense to stage a 14-6 upset victory of No. 2-ranked Rainier in a 3A state football quarterfinal game.
The win puts Vale in a semi-final contest – for the first time since 2018 – against No. 3-ranked South Umpqua (10-1) at Caldera High School in Bend at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Against Rainier, the Vikings used two first-half touchdowns to build a 14-6 lead and then unleashed a swarming defense to seal the game in the second half.
“It was a huge win. We felt like we had a really good game plan going in, especially defensively. You can’t give enough credit to our defensive staff. They did a fantastic job,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred.
Vale quarterback Tanner Steele scored both of the Viking touchdowns and finished the game by rushing for 47 yards on 14 carriers, while teammate Nathan Kimball racked up 50 yards on 14 carries.
Yet it was on the defensive side where the Vikings shined.
“We had four guys in the middle of the defense where their only job was to plug up gaps. They did exactly what was asked of them,” said Aldred.
Aldred said the Vikings tinkered with their defensive alignments in an effort to stymie the vaunted Rainier ground attack.
“We gave them multiple looks up front,” said Aldred.
The Vale defense held Rainier’s offense to 132 yards.
“That is domination. That is also a credit to the type of versatility we have. We have kids that can play on the defensive line but also go cover somebody,” said Aldred.
Vale drew first blood in the game on Steele’s quarterback sneak in the first quarter.
Rainier came right back and closed the gap to 7-6 but Steele’s 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter put the visitors out in front for good.
The key for game occurred in the third quarter, after Rainier used 11 minutes to drive to the Vale 4-yard line. The Viking defense then used an epic goal line stand to snuff the scoring threat.
“That was huge,” said Aldred.
Vale collected 172 yards of total offense.
Aldred said the game against South Umpqua will present the Vikings with new challenges.
“They are completely different than Rainier. They throw the ball around quite a bit. A lot of run-pass option. So, we will need to be prepared for a completely different scheme this week,” said Aldred.
Right now, though, the Vikings are confident, said Aldred.
“And I am confident in the attitude of our players and the preparedness of our staff. It’s going to be a battle for sure,” said Aldred.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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