Vale Football Opens Year With 9/11 Victory

Malheur Drug is your one-stop shop in Vale. We’re here to provide you with prescription medications, OTCs, sporting goods, electronics, gifts, and more! Give us a call today! (541) 473-3333

VALE – Consider the following: the Vale football team is scheduled to open the season versus Parma for Friday, Sept. 2. Parma cancels. The Irrigon Knights call, offering to play the game. Vale plays 11-man football. Irrigon plays 9-man football. Athletic directors from both schools, in a 48-hour period, arrange officials, transportation and rules for a hybrid game between the two squads-imagine the number of phone calls made!

Playing before Viking fans sitting in lawn chairs and on the grass, Vale won the first ever 9/11-man hybrid game over the Knights, 52-14.

The rules were simple. When Vale played offense, the Knights fielded 11 players on defense. Reversed, as the Knights took the field for offense, the Vikings had nine players on the field for defense. This may sound complicated, but honestly, it worked.

Vale placed the game out of reach quickly, scoring 33 points in the first quarter and 13 in the second quarter as the game entered the “mercy rule/running clock” in the second half and Vale coach Jeff Aldred pulled his starters.

Viking starting quarterback Colten Stepleton was 5-for-8 passing for 95 yards in limited play. The Vikings pounded the ball versus the Knights’ defense front with Eli Aldred picking up 67 yards on seven carries and a score in the first half.

In addition to Eli Aldred, Owen Crane, Kase Schaffeld, Stepleton, and Landon Haberman found the end zone through the ground game. Haberman ended the game with 81 yards on eight carries.

“I liked the effort and intensity we had right from the start of the game,” said Vale head coach Jeff Aldred. “We only had a day to figure our 9-man schemes on defense, but our defense really stood out tonight. I am excited to see this team moving forward during this season.”

Jeff Aldred also had high praise for the Knights for coming through and making a long trip on short notice.

“Their coaching staff, their school, and especially their team deserve a lot of praise for putting this all together and coming to Vale to play us,” said Aldred.

The Vale offense exploded for 301 yards in the first half and ended the game with 342 total yards after a running clock in the second half.

For one Viking player, the game was a return to his days of playing football as a youth. Gino Longoni grew up on the 8-man field of Adrian before transferring to Vale for high school. Not seeing 11 players take to the field was nothing new for the sophomore lineman.

“Defensively, our plan was just to find the guy and pull him down,” said Longoni after the game. “I loved finally getting to play a game. Vale is a solid team and we will do nothing but improve as the season goes along.”

His fellow lineman, senior Trevor Bates, had never seen anything more than 11-man football.

Photo Gallery – Irrigon v Vale – John Braese

“It was interesting,” Bates said of two fewer players on the field. “You really don’t realize how much more room on the field there is when only nine players are out there. We had so little time to figure out our defense, but I thought we really did well.”

Bates said the Vale team has put in the work towards a successful season and he has a personal goal for the year.

 “This is the year I will make first team league as an offensive lineman,” he said.

Irrigon’s Brayden Locey finished his night 9-for-20 for 89 yards and Mason Harrison picked up 76 yards on the ground on five carries of the ball. The Knights struggles against the Viking defense in the first half, accruing only 29 total yards, but were able to move the ball in the second half, ending the game with 163 total yards.

Before you go! If you would like to support continuing and expanded high school sports coverage in eastern Oregon for as little as $1 a month click below! Thank you!