West Valley Preps
Nearly 30 minutes of Valley Vista blunders were wiped out by six minutes of Monsoon dominance.
That's how the 13th "Battle of Surprise" careened from a 6-3 Willow Canyon lead midway through the third quarter to a 41-6 Valley Vista win.
The visitors scored four touchdowns in less than six minutes of game time — between 5:05 remaining in the third quarter and 11:45 left in the fourth — as the Monsoon defense and special teams set up all four possessions in Wildcats territory. Valley Vista (3-1) ran out the clock on its ninth straight victory in the series.
"We had, I think, 120 yards in penalties in the first half and a touchdown called back. Nothing needed to be said at half. We just wanted to be physical and play being Andrew Rumary," Sekoch said. "And obviously their guy going out changes our game plan. He's a big equalizer. My guys were kind of surprised at how quiet I was at halftime. I wasn't going to hit the panic button."
The onslaught began when a sack and penalties pushed Willow Canyon back near its end zone. A shanked punt on fourth and 37 set up the Monsoon 29 yards away from its first touchdown.
Valley Vista left nothing to chance, leaning on its offensive line and 6-7, 285-pound tackle Rumary. Four runs later, senior tailback Aiden Cunningham scored from two yards out.
"Two weeks ago at the Westwood game, I had a teammate fall on top of me and I had an MCL sprain. I felt pretty good coming back, about 90 percent. I was really hungry to get after that and you didn't see much pain coming from me because of that," Cunningham said. "There's nothing better than that (28-point sequence) because everyone is doing their job."
Willow Canyon senior tailback Darvon Hubbard, a four-star recruit with offers from 14 schools in the "Power 5" NCAA conferences, checked back into the game after injuring his ankle in the first half. He carried once for one yard.
Then Valley Vista senior safety Makai Obregon picked off Willow Canyon senior quarterback Josh Ormond and Hubbard lowered his shoulder on a collision near the sideline. Obregon stayed upright and Hubbard staggered, landing stiffly on the same ankle.
He was out the rest of the game as a precaution, each Justin Stangler said.
"He just wasn't right. They taped him and the physician was looking at him. He wasn't 100 percent," Stangler said. "I thought we did well when he first went out. When you've got someone like #6 and you make a game plan, a lot of it changes."
Obregon's pick set up two armies from senior tailback Yazid Tyler, one for 22 yards and the other a two-yard touchdown.
"When we finish strong like that it's really exciting, It's the battle of Surprise. It's a tradition we've always had and it's always held a lot of weight. We don't want to peak here, but it does mean a lot to us," Obregon said.
A quick Wildcats three-and-out forced Valley Vista's second-longest scoring drive of the night — of 43 yards. Cunningham bounced outside for 31 on one handoff.
Senior backup quarterback Zeke Alonso was in while junior starter Burton Delay recovered from an asthma attack. Alonso burrowed in from a yard out to boost the lead to 24-6.
Ormond dropped a punt snap but grabbed it time to boot it about 10 yards. Delay checked back in and immediately hit junior receiver Daniel Redmond on a post for a 25-yard touchdown.
"Delay had been sick and was having a panic attack," Sekoch said. "Liam Kelleher, even though he doesn't catch many balls, commands three guys and gives Daniel a lot of opportunities."
Tyler added a 28-yard run then hobbled off. Sekoch said it was a cramp and there was no reason to put him back in.
Sophomore kicker Angel Balderama's 27-yard field goal and junior Jayvon Hampton's 3-yard touchdown completed the scoring.
With a smaller roster than its 6A rival, and injuries limiting it to about 30 players, Willow Canyon had a small window of opportunity before running out of gas.
That opportunity came leading 6-3 in the final two minutes of the first half. Consecutive completions from Ormond to senior Blake Jordan for a total of 38 yards set up the Wildcats in the red zone.
But Jonathan HagEstad fumbled on the next play.
"I thought our kids fought. They didn't quit and that's a big step for us from last year — to have kids keep fighting with as many injured kids as we have. We dressed 32 tonight," Stangler said. "It's tough. It's like it was for Dysart playing up a division against us. Last week was a shellshocked for our young kids and I think they got over it tonight. The kids responded well."
The Wildcats had their moments early, forcing a Tyler fumble on the opening drive. Hubbard bounced outside for 29 on the next play. But the drive stalled and senior Joshua Hubbs drilled a 42-yard field goal.
Hobbs hit another from 30 yards out after a drive intended by personal foul and pass interference penalties by the Monsoon.
"The only thing in the first half is we were really giving things away. We were beating ourselves. We gave up two field goals off of mistakes. On that one drive we had about 40 yards in penalties. We knew we had it in us, we had to make sure we focused on the details," Obregon said.