November 26, 2010
Valle Wins 10th State Championship!
By CJ Layton
ST. LOUIS -- “Remarkable.“ “Insane.“ “Epic” “Gutsy.“
After I asked some random Valle football fans what they thought of Saturday’s Class 1 Show-Me Bowl, they gave me those words.
Playing with pain, pride, focus, guts and without star running-back Luke Uding, the Valle Catholic Warriors defeated Westran 22-21 for their 10th football title in 17 tries. The 10 wins tied Valle with Jefferson City for the most wins my a single school in state history.
There were a couple other things, too;
Valle Catholic seventh-year head coach Judd Naeger was the quarterback of the 1995 Valle championship team. You’ll have to look a while to find another coach that won as a player and a coach at the same school. Oh…his five TD passes in that 1995 win over Wellington-Napoleon remain a state record;
You’ll be hard-pressed to find this one, too. Father-son state championship? Luke Uding’s Dad was a state champion. Zach Weiler's Dad was a state champ, too. Oh, and the Dads played together!
It sure didn’t come easy, though.
Westran would strike first. All-everything QB Tyler Hunt found a wide-open Blake Buffington for a 49-yard touchdown with under three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Alex Stoll would come back, a couple minutes later. His 65-yard touchdown run after breaking three tackles tied the game at 7-7 after Kevin Abts kicked the extra point.
“You know, Alex has had a lot of doubters this year; a lot of people said he couldn’t get us to and through this game,” head coach Judd Naeger said. “The way he played in this football game…people aren’t ever going to forget this one.”
Neither team would score again until Hunt scored from the one-yard line almost halfway through the second quarter. Valle would have a chance to add some field-goal points just before the half, but a high snap on the attempt forced a loss on downs.
Then, at the half, there was the ‘talk’.
“We just told the guys at the half that Luke was gone; it was the worse feeling in the world, but he wasn’t going to play,” Nagger said. “Collectively, the coaches said the only thing that would feel worse for Luke is if we don’t come out and give everything we’ve got in our hearts and souls.” Uding spoke after the coaches were through, asking players to win it for the seniors and themselves.
Valle Catholic allowed somewhere in the neighborhood of….20 yards (!)…the entire second half. That led to the only touchdown of the half, a one-yard plunge by Stoll. The Abts extra-point tied it at 14. Warrior defense led to stop after stop, and, with 11 seconds remaining, Abts came on for a championship winning field-goal try that was blocked.
It was overtime.
Valle won the toss, and elected to play defense first. Westran would start from the Valle 25-yard line. “The coaches talked it over and felt, you know, we had stopped them the entire second half, and I thought we could draw from that…we could find energy from that.”
Hunt would score on a 15-yard touchdown run to take the 21-14 lead.
Score, kick the extra-point, and the game would be tied.
On a second-down play from just inside the 24, Stoll calmly found Jared Bruns for a touchdown just inside the upper-left pylon. He was ruled in bounds after a long look, and the Warriors were a point away from tying the game.
Or, were they?
“John Bacon was my head coach at Valle, and he liked to go for two,“ Naeger said. “Sometimes it worked. Others, it didn’t. And, we had to worry about the Hunt kid, who is as good of a quarterback you’ll find anywhere. We didn’t want to keep putting the ball into his hands. So, we looked at a couple plays, discussed it with the players, who all wanted to go for it, and we did. No looking back, no regrets. Just go. And we did.“
Stoll calmly dropped back, then fired a missile-shot into the hands of Bruns, who was finishing a crossing pattern one-yard deep into the end zone.
Just like that, it was over.
Valle out-gained the Hornets 419-182 overall.
Their defense held the vaunted Westran offense time and time again in the second half; indeed, Valle forced four straight 3-and-out series’.
Stoll ran for 171 yards, and completed 23 passes for 245 yards.
Zach Weiler was still hurting, but managed to catch 10 balls.
The stellar defense was led by the seven tackles of Dylan Kist. Eric Meyer had five. Collectively, the defense held Westran to just 15 snaps in the second half.
Title number 10 sure will look good on the wall.
Valle Catholic 7 0 0 7 8 - 22
Westran 7 7 0 0 7 - 21
W Buffington 49 yd pass from Hunt (Aulbur kick), 2:20
V Stoll 65 yd run (Abts kick), 0:47
W Hunt 1 yd run (Aulbur kick), 6:48
V Stoll 1 yd run (Abts kick), 4:39, tied 14-14 end of regulation play
W Hunt 14 yd run (Aulbur kick)
V Bruns 23 yd pass from Stoll (Bruns two-point conversion pass from Stoll)