CVC cruises to Valley championship football game

The Cavs shut out Washington Union 24-0 to advance to fourth straight section championship

VISALIA – Making it to one Valley championship game is a momentous occasion, but making it four straight times can catapult a program into elite company. After shutting out the high-powered Washington Union Panthers last Friday, the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers are the last team standing in Tulare County as they head right back to the big game for the fourth time in a row.

A new division ranking system was no problem for CVC and the Bakersfield Christian Eagles as this year’s Division III Valley Championship game is a rematch of the 2019 title match where the Eagles won 28-14.

The old adage of defense wins championships has held true for CVC to this point in the playoffs as they’ve allowed a combined four touchdowns through three playoff games. Their best performance, without question, came in last week’s shut out against a Washington Union team that came into the night as the highest scoring team in the Division III Central Section playoff bracket.

Prior to the game, CVC head coach Mason Hughes had high praise for Panthers quarterback Lawrence Stell, comparing him to a mini Lamar Jackson. However Hughes’ game plan worked as Stell struggled to accumulate 100 yards despite averaging over 200 combined passing and rushing yards per game with 26 touchdowns on the season. While Hughes admitted that the opposing quarterback looked like he was possibly dealing with some injuries that may have limited him, the play of the Cavalier defense can’t be understated. They forced two interceptions and several sacks as their defensive line had Stell running for his life with nowhere to go. Towards the end of the game, the Washington Union offensive line didn’t take too kindly to the whooping they had received all night as things got chippy, they threw some punches and ejections were made.

The game was stopped as both head coaches convened together with the referees to get things under control, and it went on with no issues as the Cavaliers mainly just ran out the clock.

Offensively, it was the running game for CVC that largely allowed them to move the chains, as Josh Sousa, Dom Maxfield and Blake Gambini combined for 175 rushing yards and with two touchdown runs by Sousa. As far as the scoreboard goes, most of the damage was done in the first half as they opened the game with a touchdown midway through the opening period as Parker Jones caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Max Bakker. They closed the half with a 25-yard field goal by Trent Koltsier to go up 17-0 heading into the break. The final stamp came early in the third quarter following a 32-yard touchdown run by Sousa which seemingly deflated Washington Union.

It was an extra special win for CVC as several members of the 2021 senior class were on the sideline rooting for their former teammates, after only receiving a shortened final season with no playoffs. Most of those players competed in the 2019 Valley Championship loss.

The first football Valley Championship in two years will feature a battle of two teams that are more than familiar with each other. It’ll be the third time in 2021 that Bakersfield Christian and Central Valley Christian will cross paths as they played during the condensed spring season with BC winning 28-26. They then opened this season against each other with CVC winning a close 30-24 battle. They’ve played in nearly every regular season of recent years, sometimes twice in a season as they’ve met in the playoffs multiple times and they’ll do so yet again as the two teams will run it back this Friday night at CVC at 7 p.m.

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