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Valiant football going to 3A state playoffs

Valley Catholic punches playoff ticket for first time


by: TIMES PHOTO: JOHN LARIVIERE - Valley Catholic quarterback Aidan Welsh throws a 45 yard touchdown pass to Alex Hyland with 2:58 left in the third quarter.

Heading into this season, Valley Catholic High had won a total of seven games since the program began in 2007.

On Friday, the Valiants won their sixth game of the season, a 44-0 blowout of Warrenton High and clinched a football playoff berth for the first time in school history.

“This is just the thing we’ve been talking about with these guys since I became the head coach three years ago,” Valley Catholic coach Doug Ierardi said. “A lot of guys were young then. We worked really hard. We knew they had a lot of promise and a lot of talent and we knew they were so young. This is the culmination of all the work these guys have put in.

“Even though we had some adversity, the guys stepped up. They were mature, they handled all that stuff in stride. They’ve done all of the things they needed to do to make it possible to get us into the playoffs.”

It was a close game all the way until the end of the first half.

Valley Catholic went up 7-0 on their first drive of the game when Aidan Welsh ran in a 38-yard touchdown.

That was where the score stayed until 23 seconds left in the second quarter when Clay Kemper threw a 12-yard TD to Kazuma Lane.

After that, the Valiants were dominant.

Kemper tossed three more TD passes of 72, 33, and 5 yards.

“In the second half, it was always open,” Kemper said. “The mismatch was there on the wide receivers and I just threw it up. My line gave me all the time I needed and my wide receivers went up and got it every time.”

Liam Walsh capped off the Valley Catholic scoring late in the fourth quarter with a 4-yard TD run.

The Valiants did have some problems with penalties throughout the game. Welsh had a 55-yard touchdown run called back for illegal procedure and later JD Menkens had a 53-yard pick-six called back for an illegal block.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JOHN LARIVIERE  - Clay Kemper (21) of Valley Catholic nearly intercepts a pass intended for Warrenton wide receiver Bradd Lundberg late in the first quarter.  Also defending the play for the Valiants are Colin Hafferty (32) and JD Menkens (right).

“That’s just hard,” Ierardi says. “They’re kids and they’re making blocks. You get stuff out on the edge, those are tough calls. I just tell our kids to reload and score again. There’s not a lot of defeatist mentality.”

The Valley Catholic defense was bulletproof, though, and the penalties did not come back to hurt the Valiants.

Next week, Valley Catholic 6-2 will play at Clatskanie High. The Valiants' playoff seed will be in the air, but Ierardi is more concerned with the process his team is working on and taking another step in the right direction.

“I haven’t really looked at how the power rankings are breaking down right now,” Ierardi said. “Just to beat Clatskanie would be another step in the process. It’s always been a tough game for us. Clatskanie is a really strong, physical team. Every year they come at us hard. We just need to play a really good game. It will be another step in our journey to beat them.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JOHN LARIVIERE - Valley Catholic place kicker Makenzee Cleveland kicks off to start the second half.




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