Central Valley earned a preseason ranking of No. 9 in the 4A ranks by the state media. With a star senior quarterback, an explosive playmaker on the outside, experienced line play and a true inspiration leading the defense, it’s no wonder the Bears are highly regarded.
But a close loss last week to Eastmont of Wenatchee – one in which a stuffed 2-point conversion with 8 seconds left made the difference – dropped the Bears from even the list of “others receiving votes” this week, with Eastmont just barely on the outside of the top 10.
Lewis and Clark, meanwhile, in its second season with Joe Ireland as head coach, is trying to establish itself as a tough, hard-nosed “ground-and-pound” team on offense.
The inside-out tandem of Matthew Heer and Gentz Hilburn accounted for 75% of the touches last week – LC attempted just four passes – as the Tigers spoiled Ridgeline’s debut with a 34-14 win.
Both teams are not finished products yet, but the Bears got the better of it – thanks in large part to a first-time starter at tailback who did the bulk of the work in the rainy weather.
Junior Zac Abshire carried 21 times for 78 yards with a 6-yard touchdown and CV topped visiting LC 21-0 Friday in a Greater Spokane League 4A/3A contest.
“It was pretty fun out there,” Abshire said. “I had a lot of fun.”
“Last week, it took us a long time to get started,” CV coach Ryan Butner said. “This week was much better.
“A better week of practice, came out better, a little bit more physical. Defense showed what they can do.”
Senior quarterback – and Zac’s big brother Luke Abshire – went 15 of 22 for 123 yards and threw touchdown passes of 17 and 11 yards.
“It was a little wet, so balls were a little hard to handle,” Luke Abshire said. “So we started with the tried-and-true running game and my brother did really well. The offensive line make huge holes for him.”
“Their defense was just extremely fast and they did a great job,” Ireland said. “We got a long ways to go. I’m really proud of our defense. They kept us in the game. I think that’s kind of a hallmark of Lewis and Clark football and I’m really proud of those guys and we’re gonna get better.”
The teams traded first-quarter turnovers. Luke Abshire lost the handle on a sack and on the next play, Saunders picked off sophomore Jack Paridon at the LC 28.
A couple of check-down passes to Zac Abshire put the Bears in the red zone. On third-and-10 Luke Abshire hit Hudson Dayton in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
LC caught a break as Hilburn recovered a muffed punt at the CV 18, but the Tigers went backward three consecutive plays and had to give it back.
The teams traded punts until 4 minutes left in the half. CV started at its 11 and slowly made its way to midfield, with a screen pass to Zac Abshire going for 16 yards.
But with fourth-and-3 at the LC 42 with 1:18 left, Luke Abshire’s short pass fell incomplete and the Bears led 7-0 at intermission.
CV took the second-half kick at its 23 and went on a 12-play drive, with Luke Abshire hitting completions of 16, 20 and 17 yards to set up a 6-yard TD run by Zac Abshire and a 14-0 lead.
“It’s kind of hard sometimes – you have to make a hole,” Zac said. “But (on the score) the hole was there.”
“We started off a little slow in that first half, but once we came out (after halftime) we were hot there in the second half,” Luke said.
“(LC) was kind of tough in the beginning,” Zac said. “But if you just get those little yards you can wear ’em down.”
Late in the third, LC coughed it up at its 23. On fourth-and-goal at the 2, Zac Abshire tried to get out wide but was hauled down short and LC took over on downs.
On the next play, Cooper Jefferies was picked off by Josh Hansen, who took it into the end zone, but a holding penalty on the return negated the score.
Two plays later, Luke Abshire hit Carter Slye on a slant pass for a 9-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-0.
Hilburn rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries for LC while Heer carried eight times for four yards.