Special to the Times
The defending GISA Class 3-AA State Champion Valwood Valiants opened the 2013 GISA Playoffs in a dominant fashion by defeating the Knights of Community Christian by a score of 46-7 Friday night.
Valwood’s defensive effort was stellar, only allowing 34 yards of offense from the Knights. Their amazing night was capped with a defensive touchdown and two safeties.
“It’s a continuation of what (the defense) has been doing all year,” Valwood Head Coach Ashley Henderson said. “Our defense has been playing ‘lights-out’. We’re really excited about our defense and our team as a whole.”
The tremendous defensive night was spearheaded with a particularly exceptional showing by senior lineman George LaHood.
Making a statement early, on the Knights’ first possession, a fumble by senior running back Antonio McCurdy was recovered by LaHood and returned 49 yards for a touchdown.
It wasn’t long before LaHood made his presence known once more. Later in the first quarter, he was able to take advantage of the poor field position of the Knights by recording the Valiants’ first safety.
“It’s all about doing what we practice all week,” LaHood said. “We’ve got a great head coach. He makes sure that we’ve got our heads on straight and never underestimate our opponent.”
The Valiants’ offense was equally impressive, led by an outstanding performance from senior quarterback Seth Carlo.
Carlo connected on 15 of 21 passing attempts totaling 212 yards and two touchdowns, including a 34-yard score on a screen to junior running back Zane Edmondson.
“Overall, we played a great game,” Carlo said. “Our linemen did an excellent job and gave me perfect coverage to drop back and make plays.”
The strong exhibition by the defending champions led to a 37-0 lead for the Valiants at the half and a running clock for the remainder of the game.
In the second half, the Valiants went deeper into their roster. The offensive efforts for the remainder of the game were commanded by sophomore quarterback Peyton Trancygier.
Trancygier put on a show as well, completing six of ten passing attempts for 39 yards.
“It was a total team effort tonight,” Trancygier said. “It always feels good when the younger guys can come in and get reps. We just have to continue to play as a team and have each other’s backs and we’ll be good.”
Trancygier’s efforts did not go unnoticed.
“Peyton did an awesome job tonight,” Carlo said. “I was talking to him, trying to help him out between possessions on the sideline. I was definitely proud of what he did tonight.”
The younger players on the roster had ample opportunity to leave their mark on the field, and they did so in impressive fashion. Key standouts include sophomore running backs Jack Helms and Ben Browning, who combined for two rushing touchdowns.
A safety by junior defensive lineman Jacob Chandler gave Valwood a 46-0 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the game. The Knights were able to capitalize on a late Valwood fumble, turning it into a touchdown, but by then it was too late to mount a comeback.
“We did what we wanted to do this week,” Coach Henderson said. “We were able to come in and handle our business, and we’re moving on to the next round.”
Valiant junior Zach Edmondson contributed 38 yards on four carries. Junior tight end Anthony Folkerts added 47 yards on two receptions and senior wide receiver Char Merine finished with four receptions for 41 yards. Merine also added a rushing touchdown on his only attempt of the game.
Friday’s victory extends Valwood’s win streak to 24 games and brings them one step closer to their ultimate goal of capturing back-to-back state titles. The Valiants will resume playoff action against the Gators of Gatewood High School (Eatonton, Ga.) on Nov. 15.