The Cavaliers defeat Firebaugh 35-20, will host semifinal match against Washington Union
VISALIA – After losing three of their last four games of the regular season, the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers have seemingly righted the ship at the right time. Last Friday they made light work of the Firebaugh Eagles in a 15-point win, and earned a chance to fight for a spot in the Division III Valley championship game.
After the Eagles traveled over an hour to Visalia, they were greeted with two first quarter touchdowns by the Cavaliers. CVC’s aerial attack, ground game and defense were working in unison throughout the night as they threw for four touchdowns, ran for 175 yards, and forced multiple turnovers. All three phases of the game opened the night with big plays to put them up 14-0. A trio of juniors got them their first eight points as junior quarterback Max Bakker found Jaeden Moore for the touchdown and Zach Zwart for the two-point conversion.
Zwart’s fingerprints were all over the opening period as he stayed on the field on defense and secured an interception off a tipped pass which then led to another touchdown. The rushing attack got the job done for the next score as another junior, Blake Gambini, ran the 14-yard touchdown to go up 14-0 at the end of the first.
It took a full quarter but the Eagles were finally awake. They opened the quarter with a touchdown, forced a three and out, and scored another touchdown to tie the score at 14. With the momentum now on the visiting sideline, CVC was able to answer. After both sides traded fumbles, Moore made the play of the night off an unreal acrobatic catch in the end zone. Bakker threw him the ball in the end zone which bounced off the helmet of a defender but Moore was able to track it down, catch it, and stay in bounds for six points.
“Every game there’s a couple of times that we’re going to just throw it up [to him]. Throw it up and pray and he goes and gets it,” CVC head coach Mason Hughes said of his 6’4 tight end.
Moore, a three-star recruit with multiple Division I football offers, has been a difference maker all season for the Cavaliers. As of late he’s been making big plays in the passing game but his best position is defensive end. Firebaugh had a chance for points to end the half, but Moore deflected a ball at the line of scrimmage on fourth down in the red zone and also recorded a sack on their next offensive drive to help send CVC into the half with a 20-6 lead.
“He’s just so dynamic. And so I think our kids just feed off that,” Hughes said. “I tell our kids all the time. It’s a good feeling to know every game you go into that your team has the best player on the field.”
The Cavaliers’ two touchdowns in the second half while holding the Eagles to just one score helped them close out the win and advance to the semifinal game. They will now face their biggest test of the season in a Washington Union team that has scored 80 points through their first two playoff games, the most of any other team in the Division III Central Section bracket. The team is playing inspired football as they had a player pass away in a car crash just hours after a Thursday practice back in September.