Valley View blasts Chico, knocks Dragons out of playoffs for second straight year

By Reece Waddell | Published Thursday, November 16, 2017
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On Chico’s first play from scrimmage Thursday night, senior quarterback Jerod Blanks darted down the field for a 36-yard gain – putting the Dragons in prime position to get on the board first.

With the opportunity to jump out to an early lead against a Valley View team that entered the game as 38-point favorites, Chico marched all the way to the Eagle nine-yard line. Knocking on the door, Blanks rolled out to his left and attempted an ill-advised throw across his body.

And paid the price.

Valley View’s Clint Epperson intercepted the pass, returning it 91 yards for a touchdown to wake the Eagles up. It was the first of Epperson’s three first half interceptions, as he led Valley View to a 69-19 blowout of Chico in the 2A bi-district round of the University Interscholastic League playoffs.

“We came out strong and marched right down the field,” said Chico coach Lane Wilson. “Unfortunately, we turned the ball over and they returned it for a touchdown. We kind of got behind the eight ball there.”

Epperson had a huge night for Valley View, recording two pick-six’s in the first half to go along with two rushing touchdowns. On the final play of the second quarter, Epperson blew up a screen pass before it had time to develop, taking Blanks to the house yet again for his second interception return for a touchdown.

The play gave the Eagles a 55-7 halftime advantage.

“He’s just incredibly fast,” Wilson said of Epperson. “He’s a big, strong kid. He’s going to give a lot of people trouble. [But we] came out in the second half and responded really well.”

Chico gave up just 14 points in the second half, with Valley View’s final touchdown coming with less than two minutes remaining.

Following Epperson’s interception in the first quarter, the Eagles scored 20 unanswered points before the Dragons were able to get on the board courtesy of a 61-yard shuttle pass from Blanks to Nico Starnes. This cut the Valley View lead to 20-7.

But Chico would never get any closer.

The Eagles scored 42 consecutive points to build an insurmountable lead, and at one point led the Dragons by as much as 55 points.

“Obviously we were down by [48] or whatever at the half, and it’s really hard to come back from that,” Blanks said. “I was pleased with the second half. I wouldn’t trade this team for [anything].”

Valley View junior quarterback Brady Jackson accounted for five touchdowns in the Eagles’ victory. With the win, Valley View advances to the area round and will play the winner of Crawford vs. Riesel.

This is the second consecutive year Chico has lost to Valley View in the bi-district round.

“The kids played really hard for four quarters,” Wilson said. “All year long they’ve played incredibly hard for four quarters, and I’m very proud of them for that.”

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