LUCASVILLE — A 48-minute lightning delay and constant torrential rains didn’t do much to slow down Valley on Friday night.
The Indians (3-0) outplayed Piketon (1-2) in all three aspects of the game, scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in a 35-8 win.
“In these type of conditions, to stay focus and play as well as we did, it’s pretty satisfying,” Valley head coach Darren Crabtree said.
Threatening skies eventually gave way to lightning strikes during warm-ups, pushing back the opening kickoff from 7:30 p.m. to around 8:15. However, Valley senior Blake Howard was still able to get off to a hot start, returning a Piketon punt 30 yards deep into Redstreak territory just moments into the game. Though Piketon came up with a big sack and a tackle for loss to stall the drive, Howard’s return had given Valley an advantage in the field position battle.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Indians caught a break when Piketon shanked its ensuing punt. From there, the Indians pieced together a nine-play, 37-yard drive to get on the board. Quarterback Bryan Rolfe dove into the end zone from two yards out on fourth-and-goal to cap the drive.
On the next drive, Piketon seemed to find a rhythm offensively. Quarterback Devon Brewster found Travis Veach for a 44-yard gain, and the Redstreaks found themselves in the Valley red zone.
But Valley linebacker Sam Basham had other ideas. On fourth-and-goal, he stepped in front of a Brewster pass and saw nothing but green space ahead of him. He returned the interception 93 yards for a defensive touchdown to give the Indians a 14-0 lead.
Valley coach Darren Crabtree was concerned about Piketon’s pass-heavy spread offense coming in to Friday’s game, but the Indians were ready. The Valley secondary allowed just 60 passing yards on the evening, and limited Brewster to a 32 percent completion percentage.
“I thought our coverage was good and we got to the quarterback when we needed to,” Crabtree said.
With time running short in the first half, Rolfe wanted to get one more shot in before halftime. He fielded a Piketon punt at the 50 on the run, made a man miss and crossed all the way across the field before waltzing into the end zone. His touchdown gave the Indians a 21-0 lead at the half.
But that wasn’t Rolfe’s only contribution on special teams. The Valley senior also booted five extra points, and pinned Piketon inside their own five-yard line with a punt in the fourth quarter.
According to Crabtree, Rolfe was filling in on PAT duty for kicker Bryce Romanello who is suffering from a sore leg. He expects Romanello to be healthy within the next few weeks.
The bright spot for Piketon in the first half was senior linebacker Matt Smith. He recorded 5.5 tackles (at least two for a loss) and two sacks. On at least two plays, Smith reached Rolfe before he could hand the ball off to a rusher.
Smith finished the game with 8.5 tackles and four rushes for 12 yards.
Valley didn’t waste any time in getting on the board in the second half. On the first play from scrimmage, Rolfe found Derek Burk down the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
On the Indians’ next drive, running back Blake Howard converted on two third downs — one from 17 yards out, the other from three — and caught a long pass from Rolfe to put Valley in scoring position. From there, Rolfe found Bryce Romanello up the seam for a 24-yard touchdown pass to give Valley a 35-0 lead and enact the running clock rule.
Piketon was finally able to crack the scoreboard with about four minutes left in the game. After recovering a Valley fumble on the Indian 10-yard line, Matt Smith took the ball in from three yards out. Brewster added the two-point conversion to cap the scoring.
The Indians take the field again next Friday, when they host Kentucky powerhouse Raceland.
“They throw the ball quite a bit,” Crabtree said. “This is a good setup for us coming in. Piketon does a lot of similar things, so we’re going to have our hands full next week.”
Piketon opens SVC play next Friday, when they host Southeastern.
Val — B. Rolfe 2 yd rush (B. Rolfe PAT) (7-0) (3:53)
Val — S. Basham 93 yd interception return (Rolfe PAT) (14-0) (9:00)
Val — B. Rolfe 50 yd punt return (B. Rolfe PAT) (21-0) (0:16)
Val — D. Burk 56 yd reception from B. Rolfe (B. Rolfe PAT) (28-0) (11:44)
Val — B. Romanello 24 yd reception from B. Rolfe (B. Rolfe PAT) (35-0) (5:03)
Pik — M. Smith 3 yd rush (D. Brewster 2 pt conversion) (35-8) (4:00)
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||5-16-1||4- 7-0|
Passing — Piketon: D. Brewster 5-16-60 ; Valley: B. Rolfe 4-7-141.
Rushing — Piketon: T. Henderson 8-41, K. Robertson 6-17, M. Smith 4-12, D. Brewster 8-12, B. Sickles 3-8, Z. Barker 1-(-1), G. Birkhimer 1-(-3); Valley: B. Howard 11-71, D. Wolford 5-24, J. Jones 2-4, S. Basham 2-1, D. Howard 1-0, D. Howard 2-0, A. Shope 1-(-4), B. Rolfe 7-(-20).
Receiving — Piketon: T. Veach 1-44, G. Williams 2-15, A. Thompson 1-1, B. Sickles 1-0; Valley: B. Howard 2-61, D. Burk 1-56, B. Romanello 1-24.
Piketon 1-2; Valley 3-0.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter