CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER 33, CONCORD 6
The game started like a carbon copy of the first meeting this season between these Diablo Valley Athletic League rivals on Oct. 24 (a 48-40 CV win) “” with Clayton Valley hitting on big plays and building a 21-0 lead after one quarter. Only this time there was no furious comeback from Concord. Clayton Valley (14-0) nailed down its second North Coast Section Div. II title a dominant defensive effort and explosive plays on offense.
WHY CLAYTON VALLEY WON: Defense, defense, defense. It wins championships, right? The Ugly Eagles frustrated the high-powered Concord offense all night long, holding it well below alll of its season averages. Clayton Valley made a concerted effort to contain Concord’s dual-threat RB, Malik Blackburn. And boy were they successful. Blackburn had 258 total yards of offense in the teams’ regular-season meeting but finished with just 65 in the championship tilt. The Eagles defense came up with three interceptions and set the tone with an early first-quarter goal line stand.
WHY CONCORD LOST: The Minutemen (12-2) just couldn’t stop Clayton Valley from making big plays on offense. The Eagles hit on a 71-yard TD pass on just the third play of the game. In fact, Clayton Valley was able to score 21 points on just six plays in the first quarter thanks to Miles Harrison TD runs of 96 and 59 yards. The Minutemen can often match these types of scores, but on this night, the Eagles defense was too strong.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Clayton Valley had several big plays, but Nate Kiesel’s 71-yard TD strike to a wide-open Justin Zapanta on the third play of the game was huge for two big reasons. 1) It came on a 3rd-and-11 after Concord’s defense had held Harrison to 4 yards on three carries with an Eagles holding penalty mixed in. 2) It was a big play in the passing game, which is always considered a bonus in a power run offense centered around Harrison.
CLAYTON VALLEY PLAYER OF THE GAME: It would be hard not to name Harrison. The explosive running back rushed 24 times for 285 yards and three TDS. His scores came on plays of 96, 59 and 49 yards. Perhaps the most impressive part of his night was the amount of yards he made after contact. Several times he shrugged of tackles and held his balance in order to extend runs.
CONCORD PLAYER OF THE GAME: We’re giving this to senior WR Jed Gwynn. He came up with some of the biggest plays of the night for the Concord offense, catching five passes for 104 yards. His finest catch may have been his last one, stabbing a 15-yard rope along the sideline to pick up a first down early in the fourth quarter.
QUOTABLE: “I wish we could pass a little more, but with a running back like that it’s kind of hard. He’s an outstanding running back.” “” Clayton Valley QB Nate Kiesel on his backfield companion, RB Miles Harrison.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CLAYTON VALLEY: The Ugly Eagles are all but assured to gain a berth into their second CIF Div. II Northern Regional bowl in three years. Their first trip ended in a 27-24 loss to Oakdale in 2012. This team may be more prepared than that one to punch the program’s first ticket to the state bowl game in SoCal. Clayton Valley’s regional opponent will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 7. Many believe it could be the winner of the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III final between Inderkum-Sacramento (12-1) and Oakdale (12-1) on Dec. 6.
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