Spent and its season derailed, Valley View senior lineman Noah Harrison handed off the challenge of maintaining the Spartans’ current level of greatness.
“This was an awesome thing,” Harrison said following a 33-0 loss to Cincinnati Wyoming in a Division IV, Region 16 high school football final at Princeton’s Mancuso Viking Stadium on Saturday night.
“We love each other and we’re a big family. This is something we’ll have forever. I hope this continues for next year and the year after for those seniors to make it this far and even farther.”
This was the deepest Valley View (10-3) had ventured into the postseason since 2005. The Spartans recovered from Weeks 6-7 losses to Bellbrook (8-2) and Franklin (9-2) to earn a No. 7 seed. Valley View responded with a first-round upset win at second-seeded Clinton-Massie and followed by overcoming St. Bernard Roger Bacon and its outstanding running back Corey Kiner in the Week 12 regional semifinals.
But Valley View had no answer for Mr. Football candidate and Wyoming senior Evan Prater, a senior dual-threat quarterback. The highest ranked recruit ever to verbally commit to the University of Cincinnati, Prater tallied all five Cowboys touchdowns on runs from 2-24 yards.
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The win vaults the top-ranked Cowboys (13-0) into a D-IV state semifinal against the Clyde (9-4). A No. 8 and last seed, Clyde extended its postseason upset streak by eliminating Ottawa-Glandorf 17-10 in the D-IV, Region 14 final at Findlay.
Prater had 125 yards rushing, completed 5 of 8 passes for 111 yards, bumped his three-game postseason TD total to 13 and earned the Spartans’ head-shaking respect.
“He just could make it happen,” Harrison said. “He’s all-around a great player. On film, we thought we had everything together. We came out here and he just out-played us. There wasn’t much else we could do.”
Everything that had worked so well for Valley View during its five-game win streak unraveled against Wyoming. No surprise in that. The defending D-IV state champ, Wyoming will take a 28-game win streak over the last two seasons into the state semis.
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The Cowboys senior class is a remarkable 52-2 over the last four seasons.
“We’ve always had a rich tradition here at Wyoming, but the last four years have been another level,” Cowboys coach Aaron Hancock said. “It’s just incredible to see.”
Scoreless after the first quarter, Prater bunched three scores in the second quarter and scored twice more in the second half to end the area’s final D-IV postseason hope. Senior QB Cade Cradlebaugh drove the Spartans to the Wyoming 8 in the second half for a rare red-zone threat but couldn’t score.
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Cradlebaugh completed 6 of 19 passes for 78 yards and led Valley View with 38 yards rushing. He finished the season with 2,024 yards passing and 24 TD passes and rushed for 854 yards and another eight scores. Wyoming registered its sixth shutout.
“It wasn’t just a guy, they had a great team and they had a great plan for us,” Valley View coach Bob Skidmore said. “When we had our chances, we just didn’t make plays and they wore us out.”
West Jefferson 34, West Liberty-Salem 0: Gabe Jones rushed for 289 yards and five touchdowns in a D-V, Region 20 final at Sidney in a rematch of Ohio Heritage Conference rivals. WL-Salem defeated West Jeff 42-39 in Week 8 of the regular season.
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WL-Salem had just 113 yards of offense and six first downs. It was the first time for the Tigers to play in a regional final. West Jefferson (12-1) will play Ironton (12-1) in a state semi at Chillicothe on Saturday.
Marion Local 27, New Bremen 0: Ahead 7-0 at halftime, the Flyers benefitted from a blocked punt to mount a second-half surge in an unlikely D-VII, Region 28 matchup of Midwest Athletic Conference teams at Wapakoneta.
It was the ninth consecutive regional title for Marion Local (11-2), which will play Hamler Patrick Henry (10-3) in a state semi at Lima Senior Spartan Stadium on Saturday. Patrick Henry advanced with a 27-13 defeat of Leipsic.
A last and No. 8 seed, New Bremen (10-3) blew out top-seeded New Miami in its playoff opener and did the same to Lima Perry in Week 12. This was the first time New Bremen had played in a regional final. Marion Local and New Bremen did not play in the regular season.
Marion Local has played in eight straight state championships, winning six.
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