YAKIMA – West Valley powered its way into the Class 2A football semifinals on Saturday with a convincing 28-15 win over Selah at Zaepfel Stadium.
The Eagles will play Hockinson next weekend in the semifinals. The site and time will be determined early next week. But in the immediate aftermath of the win, the Eagles were focused on a late dinner at a Yakima landmark – Miner’s hamburger restaurant in Union Gap.
West Valley’s linemen on both sides of the ball have been their strength all season and on Saturday, they asserted their will early and often against the smaller Vikings.
“We hang our hat right there,” Eagles coach Craig Whitney said. “We don’t single players out. They are united and they do a great job for us.”
The Eagles gambled big on their first possession. Backed up at their own four-yard line, punter Connor Whitney ran to his right and then threw to wide open Collin Sather who snagged the ball and dashed to the 45-yard-line before the Vikings caught him.
“That call is between those two kids,” Whitney explained, noting with a grin that the punter is his son. “They made a good decision right there. He (Whitney) probably watched their punt coverage for an hour this week.”
A holding penalty ended up bogging that opportunity down, but after the Eagles defense forced a Selah punt, West Valley struck.
Sather grabbed a Selah punt at the Viking 28 and scampered 20 yards down the sideline to the Viking 16. On the first play Tanner Jones powered through a handful of Selah defenders at the line of scrimmage, then ran over a defensive back just before the end zone.
The Eagles defense again held Selah to three plays and the offense struck quickly. Quarterback Matt Allen broke through the packed Selah defensive front, then scampered toward the far sideline and ran over a Selah defensive back inside the five-yard line for a 56-yard TD.
West Valley’s line dominated Selah in the second half. The Eagles’ second drive of the half was sheer willpower, a 54-yard, eight plays without a pass clinic on line play. Marshall Meleney swept in from three yards out to make it 21-0 West Valley.
The Eagles added one more touchdown just nine seconds into the fourth period. Tanner Jones swept the left side from 14 yards out to cap a 58-yard drive.
Selah scored twice in the final eight minutes, including an 84-yard pass from Zak Donato to Jake Weber. The second touchdown came with 43.5 seconds left on then clock. A successful onside kick attempt that would have made things a little interesting at the end was waved off by an illegal batting call.
Part of West Valley’s success came as a result of superior field position. The four TD drives were of 44, 54, 61 and 16 yards.