The Region 23 Championship game was a matchup between the #2 seeded
10-1 Willow Wood Symmes Valley Vikings and the #8 seed 10-2 Danville
Blue Devils. The field was fully soaked from a persistent rain
and the two run-based offenses would have to battle soft footing
as they tried to make their cuts. With two excellent aggressive
defenses it promised to be a struggle.
received the kickoff and proceeded to earn a first down before
punting. Symmes Valley was sent packing on a 3 and out. Danville
followed with their own 3 and out. The Vikings hurt themselves
with back-to-back penalties before a short punt gave it to Danville
at the Symmes Valley 32.
far this game had been running plays going nowhere and Danville
seemed determined to change that. They pitched to their fullback
#2 Sr. Kasey Doup who threw the ball to #5 Jr. WR Nick Miller
in the endzone. The pass needed to be high to clear a defender,
and the perfect spiral was just a little too high and hot for
Miller to pull it in. Such a great ball from a fullback is surprising
until you realize that Doup spent 2 years as Danville’s
starting QB. Danville was faced with 3rd and long when their QB
#3 Sr. Randy Clouse rolled out and threw to Doup who snagged the
pass with one hand and plowed ahead for a first down. The next
play Doup led the sweep to the left and #15 Sr. RB Steve Payne
carried the ball to the corner for a touchdown. The PAT snap was
high, but #12 So. Tyler McFadden handled it beautifully and #11
So. Mason Pew kicked it through to make the score 7-0 Danville.
was feeling momentum as #3 Randy Clouse came downfield on the
kickoff like a missile and ran down the kick returner. On this
series the Symmes Valley offense ran an option where the dive
back got hit, the QB was quickly forced to pitch and the pitchman
was hit immediately for a loss by OLB #25 Lance Smith. It was
textbook defense of the option play. The Vikings were forced to
throw, but #78 DL Mat Butler was all over the QB to record the
sack. After the punt the Blue Devils maintained their momentum
earning a first down before a 3rd down pass opened up over the
middle and Clouse connected with #33 Sr. RB Nathan Bartok for
the second Blue Devil touchdown. The kick was wide and the score
was 13-0 Danville.
Symmes Valley offense was still without a first down and was now
facing a 2-touchdown deficit as the second quarter was well underway.
The Vikings responded to the challenge and earned a first down
before a second down tackle for loss by #25 Lance Smith left the
Vikings with a 3rd and 15. They flooded the zone to the right
and threw back a screen to the left to a wide-open receiver who
rambled to the 2-yard line before Nick Miller took him down. The
Vikings got on the scoreboard on the next play and their kick
failed to leave the score 13-6.
Valley forced Danville to punt in 3 plays. The Viking offense
got a spark from #4 Cory Burcham who turned a loss into a gain
by breaking 5 tackles for an 8 yard gain. From there #78 DL Mat
Butler tore up the Viking blockers and Symmes Valley was forced
to punt after only 3 plays. After trading 3 and outs again Danville
had a few seconds left, but fumbled the ball on the last play
of the half. A Symmes Valley defender scooped the ball up and
almost wrestled away just 20 yards from a score, but was taken
down by Danville to end the half.
defenses continued to dominate as Symmes Valley was forced to
punt on their first drive of the second half. Danville attempted
to go to the air a bit, but still with no result and the Devils
went 3 and out. The Danville defense continued to eat up the Symmes
Valley option play and forced a fumble on the pitch at the Viking
20. The Symmes Valley defense sent the Devils back 4 yards on
4 plays and got the ball back on downs.
76 yards to go and their running game completely stymied, Symmes
Valley was ready to try the pass again. The same type of throwback
screen got them 30 yards to midfield, and then another pass play
was perfectly executed for a 50-yard touchdown. The Vikings went
for 2 with hopes of grabbing the lead, but were denied leaving
the score 13-12 in favor of Danville.
Danville offense was feeling the pressure of the situation and
responded with inspired blocking. #2 FB Kasey Doup threw a big
block to open up room to run for a first down. Symmes Valley answered
with #55 Jr. LB Matt Owens who seemed unblockable and finished
ball carriers with great ferocity. His great play forced a Danville
punt, but there was a roughing call on the punt giving Danville
a first down. The Danville QB Randy Clouse pitched to FB Kasey
Doup who threw back to Clouse for an 8-yard gain. From the 25-yard
line Danville ran a counter play out of their Wing-T that Steve
Payne took for a touchdown. The kick failed again and Danville
led 19-12 as the 3rd quarter ended.
Valley badly needed to get something going so they went back to
the throwback screen yet again and earned a first down. Danville
was covering it better each time and the Vikings were forced to
punt. #24 Sr. OLB Nick Morton applied big pressure forcing a short
punt. The Symmes Valley defense didn’t allow anything from
Danville on the good field position. The Danville passing game
looked shaky as Clouse struggled to get footing for his passes.
Fortunately Clouse was able to get footing for his punts as he
consistently got decent punts away.
Symmes Vally QB took the ball himself on a couple of runs to get
the Vikings a first down. The rain started coming down harder,
but the Vikings needed to pass. A halfback pass was batted down
forcing a Viking punt. Danville took over at the Symmes Valley
49 and kept the ball on the ground to eat up some clock. The counter
play produced a first down, and then Kasey Doup powered his way
to the 12-yard line for another first down. Two plays later it
was first and goal from the 1 and a Kasey Doup touchdown put the
Vikings in a desperate position. The 2-point conversion attempt
was denied and Danville led 25-12.
only a couple minutes left the Vikings were forced exclusively
to the air and the Danville prevent defense left lots of space
for Symmes Valley to work with. They completed short passes and
got a draw play to go for some good yardage. A screen pass went
nowhere as #25 Lance Smith made another big play. #33 Nathan Bartok
came hard off the edge and got a big sack. The Vikings hung in
there and got some first downs, but eventually turned it over
on downs. A Symmes Valley student ran the track in front of the
Danville crowd with their flag proudly waving. It drew cheers
from the Danville fans as they showed their appreciation for the
effort the Vikings showed on the wet field. Danville kneeled the
ball to secure a 25-12 win and their second trip to the final
game was a great defensive battle. Both teams allowed very little
on the ground and most offensive production came on creative offensive
plays. The Viking defense was full of great tacklers and big hitters.
The Danville defensive linemen, #77 Ben White, #72 Brian Cunningham,
#78 Mat Butler, and #33 Nathan Bartok stacked up the Symmes Valley
wishbone all night long.
advances to the State semi-finals for the second time and will
face Dola Hardin Northern who beat New Bremen 22-7. Symmes Valley
finishes their best season in history with a 10-2 record while
advancing to the Regional Final.