For Vale, Defense Is Road To State Title

photo credit: Angie Aldred

VALE – If you are thinking the Vale football team will be scoring 50 points a game to achieve a state title, don’t hold your breath. For the Vikings, holding opponents defensively is the key to a state crown.

Vale held the Rainier Columbians to a mere six points in a 14-6 win in the quarterfinals of the 3A state tournament on Saturday, Nov. 13 on the turf field of Kelso, Wash. Due to the condition of the Rainier field, the matchup was moved to Kelso.

All the scoring for both teams took place in the first half of the game, leaving the Vikings to hold their lead throughout the second half. The defense held and the Viks are onto the semifinals versus South Umpqua.

Vale led 14-6 at the half, but looked to relinquish the lead in the third quarter as Rainier started on a 18-play drive. Burning the clock of nearly the entire 12 minutes, Vale kept the Columbians out of the end zone on four straight plays, taking the ball back on the 2-yard line.

“Our defense is out identity,” said Vale coach Jeff Aldred. “Peter McBride made some big plays and John Wolfe shut down their deep threat, but the whole defensive unit played a great game.”

Rainier also had a chance late in the game to take the lead, but again the Vale defense stopped the drive and secured the win.

The stats on the game tell the story. Rainier’s Stone Ware was held to 45 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Kenney Tripp completed just 6 of 12 passes for 32 yards and had one interception. For the game, Rainier ended with just 132 yards of total offense.

The Vale offense had just enough, ending the game with 174 yards of total offense. Tanner Steele scored both touchdowns for the Vikings and was 4-for-8 passing for 24 yards. Nathan Kimble handled the bulk of the rushing, picking up 50 yards on 15 touches of the ball.

“We had limited opportunities to score as Rainier plays a very ball control game,” said Aldred. “We continue to work on taking advantage of opportunities and not turning the ball over. In this game, we were lucky turning the ball over did not come back to haunt us.”

The game plan for the upcoming weekend will be different according to Aldred. After meeting and beating two run-oriented teams, the Vikings will face the South Umpqua Lancers, a team winning on their passing game.

Both Vale and South Umpqua have a common opponent this season, the Burns Hilanders. The Lancers downed Burns 42-12 on Oct. 9 while Vale beat Burns, 20-0, on Oct. 29.