Over a span of 15 years (1991-2005), the winner of the Valley View-Bellbrook football game claimed the Southwestern Buckeye League title. Since then the teams have combined for one trophy.
Friday, the echoes were awakened.
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Playing in front of a vocal homecoming crowd at Miami Valley South Stadium, the visiting Spartans tamed the host Golden Eagles 41-34 to remain unbeaten and move a step closer to their first SWBL title in 12 years.
Valley View, ranked No. 1 in the state in Division IV by MaxPreps and No. 2 by the AP, improves to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the SWBL Southwestern Division. Bellbrook, which had a four-game win streak snapped, drops to 4-2, 2-1.
Both head coaches – Valley View’s Bob Skidmore (as a coach) and Bellbrook’s Jeff Jenkins (as a player) – participated in the Spartans and Golden Eagles 15-year war. Friday’s atmosphere and contest was a welcomed reminder.
“We’re one step closer, but I keep telling the kids every week there is no easy game left,” Skidmore said. “They have to play every week. That’s why it’s so hard to win a league title. Our league is so competitive.”
Said Jenkins: “There was some growth with our team in this game. Knowing what Valley View did to Franklin last week (beat them 34-3), we knew they were the real deal. We hung with them. We were just a couple plays away.”
The game wasn’t decided until Bellbrook’s onside kick with 7 seconds left failed to go 10 yards. The contest was that close.
A week after limiting Franklin to 165 yards and three points, Valley View found itself trailing at halftime for the first time this season. Down 8-0 after the first quarter, Bellbrook scored on all three of its second-quarter possessions en route to a 21-14 halftime lead. The Golden Eagles had 202 yards of offense at half. The biggest play was a 54-yard touchdown pass from Brendan Labensky to Jack Campbell with 1:10 to go in the second quarter that gave Bellbrook the lead. The Golden Eagles first two first-half touchdowns were scored by running back Jacob Schmidt.
“We had some miscues in the first half and we knew it,” Skidmore said. “The kids came out in second half and played a lot better, a lot harder.”
Led by senior quarterback Collin Wood, Valley View scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter to take a 28-21 lead.
Bellbrook closed the gap to 28-27 on a Justin Sloan 3-yard touchdown run, but Wood answered with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Logan Hannah and a 21-yard touchdown run.
Bellbrook followed with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Labensky to Cameron Brittain to set up the final onside try.
The game was a far cry from last year’s contest, which was a 43-14 Valley View rout.
“I’m proud of my guys and the direction we’re headed,” Jenkins said. “Valley View is one of the top teams in the state in D-IV - if not the best - and we fought with them all game.”
Wood was fantastic for the Spartans. He carried the ball 16 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns and completed 8-of-16 passes for 123 yards and a score. Valley View converted nine third downs into firsts.
“He was our leader,” Skidmore said. “That’s what you ask a quarterback to do and he did it. We really needed a game like that from him.”
Don’t expect it to be the last.
“We knew heading into Week 1 that we wanted an SWBL title,” Wood said. “Now that we’re in league play, we’re even more focused. Everybody is getting better and we know what we have to do – execute.
“We do that – and we will get that league title.”