The last two meetings between Valwood and Brookwood came down to late-game heroics.
On Friday night, the Valiants (4-2) left no doubt about the outcome, blanking the Warriors (3-2) 27-0 at Warrior Field. Riding the play of their defense and special teams, the Valiants consistently gave the Warriors a long field to work with all game long.
“That’s the best defensive line that we’ve gone against this year and probably in several years,” Brookwood coach Shane Boggs said. “We just had a hard time with their defensive line. They had some lock-down corners that made things tough on you.”
Despite a slow start offensively, Valwood head coach Ashley Henderson didn’t change a thing at halftime––citing the team’s defensive play giving his offense time to find traction.
“Our kids, in the second half, battled and we cut out the penalties and started making some plays and playing Valwood football,” Henderson said. “I thought our offensive line played really hard in the second half, I thought they got after it. It was just a total team win..it feels good to get our first region win going into an open week right here.”
After a first half that saw the Valiants throw an interception on their first drive, lose a fumble and bog down offensively for stretches, it appeared Brookwood’s defense was up to the task of throwing a wrench in the Valiants’ efficient offense.
For one half, the Warriors succeeded.
“We probably played as hard as we’ve played all year,” Boggs said. “I thought defensively, there were so many guys that played great. We really gave ourselves a chance on defense.”
Valiants kicker John Miller’s 41-yard field goal gave the Valiants a 3-0 lead with 1:53 left in the first quarter that held until halftime.
The second half started with the Warriors going three-and-out to give the ball back to the Valiants. Quarterback Caleb Burns found Sam Martin for a 15-yard gain on third-and-11 to give the Valiants a first down. Two plays later, Burns hit Jaharie Boone downfield for 25 more yards. Despite being stuffed on a keeper on the next possession, Burns redeemed himself on the next play with arguably the play of the game. Burns dropped back, drawing heavy pressure from the Brookwood defense before chucking the ball to receiver Cam Walker in the corner of the end zone. Walker, locating the ball in the air, turned back to his left mid-stride to make an over-the-shoulder grab for the touchdown. The extra point from Miller put the Valiants ahead 10-0 with 7:51 left in the third quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, the Valiants delivered again––this time, Burns found Walker for a 69-yard score to give the Valiants a 24-0 lead.
A 34-yard field goal from Miller capped the Valiants’ fourth consecutive shutout win this season and snapped the Warriors’ two-game winning streak.
With the Warriors keeping the Valiants’ offense in check much of the first half, the Valiants did themselves very few favors with multiple penalties in the half. According to Henderson, nothing needed to change at halftime except the team’s mindset for the second half.
“Not one thing,” Henderson said of the halftime adjustments. “We’re playing selfish if you’re shoving somebody late or making a knucklehead penalty, that’s just a selfish move and you can’t do that, especially against Brookwood...Brookwood’s a good football team and they’re gonna win more football games.”
Brookwood travels to play Tiftarea Academy next week.