by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Valley Catholic running back Clay Kemper and the Valiant offense hope to get back on track against Rainier this week at home.

The Valley Catholic football team doesn’t spend a whole lot of time smelling the roses of victory or crying over the spilled milk of a disheartening loss.

No matter the outcome of the previous week, it’s about the next game, the incoming opponent.

While Portland Christian might have knocked the previously flying-high, undefeated Valiants down a few pegs with a 50-0 licking on Friday, head coach Doug Ierardi said Valley Catholic didn’t pity itself much.

The Valiants have quickly moved on to Rainier this Friday at home in what’s sure to be a crushing clash of Lewis and Clark League rivals, who don’t care much for each other.

Psychologically, Ierardi said the Valiants should be able to stay in the game from start-to-finish because they’ve been in close games in the past.

“If we remember those things, then whatever situation we find ourselves in, we should be mentally ready to play,” said Ierardi. “Nobody liked the way it felt Friday night (against Portland Christian), and nobody wants to feel that way again. Really, as coaches, we just reminded them of what they’re capable of doing.”

The Columbians are notoriously savage when it comes to playing physical football, and always play to, if not through the whistle on both sides of the football. Rainier might not own the kind of horsepower it did in years’ past, but Ierardi thinks the Valiants can match up. Rainier is tried-and-true with its diesel package that brings additional tight ends and receivers in to block the run game, not run pass patterns. The Columbians make no bones about wanting to dominate on the ground. They don’t masquerade on offense or do anything fancy. It’s old school football from the 1930s that would make Knute Rockne blush.

“I see them being very traditionally conservative in the way they approach the game,” said Ierardi. “They show a couple different defensive packages, so hopefully we’ll be able to work around it.

“We talked a lot of guys having heart and the desire to play,” continued Ierardi. “We told them it’s important to know that every play we run is a touchdown every time. Sometimes the opposing team actually scores points, so that shouldn’t come as a shock.”

Maybe the best thing to arise out of a 50-point beatdown against a team that’s disciplined and executes well is the Valiants were able to administer themselves an honest, team-wide self assessment. Valley committed more penalties than usual, didn’t take care of the football as well or execute with the same precision.

“Uncharacteristic is the best way to describe it,” said Ierardi. “If you look at what we’d done the first four games, Friday night didn’t look like anything that we’d done in terms of putting up some of those offensive numbers.”

Ierardi said looking back, Valley Catholic had a number of good drives from one 20-yard line to the other, but didn’t do some of the small things. A fumble early in the game induced a Portland Christian touchdown, and a Valley miscue on a kickoff return led to another Lion score in the first half. “We dug a hole pretty deep,” said Ierardi. “They’re a quality team, and it’s hard to dig out of a hole against an excellent team like Portland Christian. Their guys upfront were big and strong in the upper body and lower body. They were able to get really good push on the line and kind of change the line of scrimmage.”

However, that doesn’t mean the season went up in smoke after one loss. The Valiants know there could be more bumps down the road, as there are in any football season, but they’re maintaining an upbeat attitude and looking ahead to venting their frustration versus Rainier on Friday.

Ierardi said running backs Liam Walsh and Clay Kemper ran vigorously, but the Valiant offense just couldn’t seem to string anything together. Quarterback Aidan Walsh got better at carrying out his fakes after handing the ball off to the backs out of the Valiants’ spread zone read scheme. This week, Ierardi and the Valiant staff worked with Walsh on trusting his arm strength without having to take giant steps forward in the pocket to create momentum.

“I think we’re a lot more positive coming out of it than people would think,” said Ierardi. “We have a really positive attitude this week in practice. I don’t think we’re down on ourselves. I think we know what we need to do to get ready for Rainier.”

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