Valley falls to Briarwood in first playoff appearance since 2013
Published 8:00 pm Monday, November 12, 2018
By Alec ETHEREDGE
Shelby County Reporter
NORTH SHELBY – Briarwood was able to punch its ticket to the second round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year with a 42-28 victory against Valley High School on Friday, Nov. 9, thanks to another strong performance from running backs J.R. Tran-Reno and Luke Prewett, as well as the defense and even some help on special teams.
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It was a game of up and downs, as the Lions looked to be en route to a blowout victory after taking a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter, but the game got wild after that.
Valley went on to score 14 unanswered points to make it a two-score game early in the third quarter, but then Tran-Reno answered with a 92-yard touchdown to kill that momentum swing quickly and put the Lions back on top by three touchdowns.
Shortly after Briarwood got the ball back off a third blocked kick in the game and went to score shortly after on another touchdown plunge from Tran-Reno to put the Lions up 42-14 heading to the final quarter.
Valley, however, pulled off 14 more unanswered points in the fourth quarter and had a chance to make it 21 unanswered after recovering a second onside kick in as many attempts, but the Lions’ defense got back to its early dominant ways and was able to preserve the 42-28 win.
“When you hit the playoffs, we have to step up and play great football, but tonight we sputtered around some,” Yancey said. “We did some real nice things and were real aggressive on defense.”
After going three-and-out on the first drive of the game, a flip seemed to switch for Briarwood, and it looked as if the Lions were ready to pull off a dominant first-round victory.
Briarwood scored its first touchdown with 5:56 left in the opening quarter thanks to a 49-yard run from Prewett just one play after Matthew McKenna blocked a field goal, the first of his three blocked kicks on the night.
On Valley’s ensuing drive, McKenna was able to bust around the outside on a punt attempt and block his second kick of the night. This time, Cade Dickinson picked it up and returned it all the way to the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
The defense stepped up on the next drive and forced a three-and-out, which gave the offense a chance to add to the lead.
Briarwood extended that lead on its first drive of the second quarter thanks to some unbelievable running by Prewett.
He had 69 yards on the drive alone, including a 45-yard touchdown run.
Valley went on to take advantage of a Jonah Carroll interception late in the quarter by throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass one play later to put the Rams’ first points on the board and make the halftime score 28-7.
Valley went on to take advantage with an eventual fourth-and-goal touchdown run from the half-yard line.
That’s when Tran-Reno went on to answer with his 92-yard kick return to bring life back to the Lions.
Briarwood didn’t touch the ball the entire fourth quarter as the Rams attempted their comeback, but in the end, the deficit was too much for the visitors, which led the Lions on to the second round of the playoffs.
Friday’s loss marked the end of a big turnaround season for Valley.
Second-year head football coach Buster Daniel went 2-8 last season before finishing the regular season this year at .500.
Daniel, a Valley High alum, has previously said that he’s looking to build a new system throughout the Rams football program at all levels.
“It was a lot of hard work from coaches and players buying into what we are teaching,” Daniel previously said. “We’ve got things going in the right direction, and the kids are starting to be excited about that.”
A couple of the team’s expected key returners are junior quarterback Eli Culpepper, freshman running back B.J. Baker, freshman defensive back and wideout K.D. Hutchinson and junior linemen Daniel Osborne.