KENNEWICK – For a second year in a row the Central Valley football team’s season ended at the hands of the Richland Bombers.
Richland shrugged off what coach Mike Neidhold thought was a sluggish offensive game, but the Bombers’ defense was more than up for the task as it blanked the Bears 37-0 in a 4A play-in game Friday at Lampson Stadium.
The Bombers (10-0) managed to overcome three turnovers in the first half to take a 17-0 lead into halftime.
Statistically, the teams were even in the first half. But the Bombers converted on key downs while the Bears (7-3) suffered three turnovers themselves.
Richland eliminated CV 30-3 last year in the first round of the state playoffs.
“It kind of reminds me of the Coeur d’Alene game in a way where it was a physical game no doubt and the turnovers like always prove to be a big piece of the game,” first-year CV coach Ryan Butner said. “We gave them a lot of short fields. That’s a phenomenal team. They’re really, really tough. I think that score was a little closer than 37-0.”
A nice punt return coupled with a personal foul penalty gave Richland possession at CV’s 29-yard line on the Bombers’ second offensive series.
Three plays later, quarterback Paxton Stevens rolled right and hit Alex Chapman alone in the end zone on a 28-yard pass to put the Bombers up 7-0.
On Richland’s next possession, the Bombers converted a third-and-23 and a fourth-and-12 when CV was called for pass interference.
The Bombers made it 14-0 when Ben Stanfield scored on a 1-yard one with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
CV attempted two field goals in the second period. Ryan Rehkow’s attempt from 51 yards was blocked by Adam Weissenfels. Rehkow pulled a kick from 32 yards.
Weissenfelds, Richland’s placekicker, connected from 22 yards to allow the Bombers to take a 17-0 lead into halftime.
“Honestly we went into halftime down 17-0 and we’d been there before against Ferris,” Butner said. “We told our kids that we’d been here before and it was familiar territory. We came out and made good adjustments.”
But Richland is no Ferris.
Things went from bad to worse quickly on CV’s first series of the third quarter. Richland’s Gaven Brasker intercepted a pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
CV didn’t mount any threat the rest of the way.
“We just weren’t able to make those big plays like they were able to make,” Butner said. “A couple of miscues offensively and we weren’t able to convert. Defense played their butts off again. That’s what they did all year long – they carried our load.”
CV senior middle linebacker Travis Hawkins reflected afterward.
“It’s hard to think about right now because it’s so emotional,” Hawkins said. “All the memories of the experiences of high school and all the fun times I’ve had with my teammates … it’s real emotional. It’s hard to think about much right now.”
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