SPORTS HEADLINES

Football: Chico looks to play spoiler

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017
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Going Nowhere

GOING NOWHERE – Chico’s Nico Starnes is wrapped up by Alvord defenders during the Bulldogs’ win Friday. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Coming off a close 15-14 loss to Alvord in the regular season finale, the Chico Dragons will hope to play spoiler in the bi-district round of the playoffs against Valley View.

Chico and Valley View square off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Krum High School.

The top seed out of 6-2A Division I, Valley View finished the season 9-1, with its only blemish coming in the first game of the year. The Eagles are currently on a nine-game winning streak.

While this is Chico’s second consecutive season to make the playoffs after a 15-year drought, it is also the second straight year the Dragons draw the Eagles in the bi-district round. Valley View romped Chico 68-20 last year to knock the Dragons out of the postseason

“[We’re] definitely excited about getting the chance to play in the playoffs again,” said Chico coach Lane Wilson. “It’s a whole new season. Anything can happen.”

The Dragons ended the regular season on a two-game losing skid, and have struggled at times offensively. Chico was shutout against Seymour, and managed just seven points against Santo.

The Dragons are led on offense by senior quarterback Jerod Blanks, who finished the season 66-for-145 for 784 yards and seven touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Dragons’ defense will be forced to contend with Valley View’s high-octane duo of quarterback Brady Jackson and running back by Clint Epperson, who combined for seven touchdowns in last year’s playoff victory.

The Eagles averaged 40.8 points per game this season while their defense surrendered just 20.8 points per contest.

“We’re going to have to tackle [Epperson],” Wilson said. “We have to win some battles up front and the secondary is going to have to come downhill and play. [Valley View] isn’t real fancy in what they do, but they’re good at what they do.”

The winner advances to the area round and will play the winner of Crawford and Riesel.

Valley View enters the game as 38-point favorites, according to Harris Ratings Weekly.

“We’re definitely underdogs,” Wilson said. “We have nothing to lose. It’s the same team we played last year, and they pretty much beat us as badly as they wanted to. I’m hoping Valley View doesn’t take us very seriously, and maybe we could upset them.”

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