Valley flag has historical night
Published 10:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023
It was a historic night for the Valley flag football team — the Rams’ first points in program history, first home game and first victory.
It took two overtimes, but the Rams eventually got it done with a 20-14 win over Opelika’s junior varsity squad. Miley Simmons connected with Kayden Dooley for the game-winning touchdown in double overtime.
The win has been manifesting since Valley started its girls flag football team last season. For Head Coach Fern Piper, this win was a culmination of a lot of hard work.
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“It’s amazing,” Piper said. “These guys have worked their tails off all summer for this. They’ve busted it in conditioning, they’ve busted it in practice, we’ve done walkthrough, we’ve learned new plays, and we have mainly a freshman and sophomore group. We’ve got them for the next four years, I’m super stoked.”
The eventual game winning touchdown was set up in large part by Valley’s clutch play on defense. The offense was unable to score in the first overtime. The defense had its backs against the goal line when Gracie Llorens intercepted Opelika’s pass to keep Valley’s hopes alive.
The defense then forced Opelika to turn the ball over on downs. Before the fourth quarter, the defense had allowed no points.
“They’ve got it,” Piper said. “They’ve got the angles down. As long as they can keep the speed up, we’ll be doing good.”
Valley scored their first touchdown in program history on their first drive of the season. After leading a long drive, Miley Simmons rushed into the end zone and Valley converted the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.
That lead would hold until the fourth quarter. Simmons came out for a play for the coaching staff to calm her down. Dooley came in for one pass attempt. That pass attempt would be an interception that Opelika would return for their first score of the game. After the failed two-point conversion, the Rams led 8-6.
Dooley quickly made up for the interception. On the next drive, Dooley caught a pass and took it 70-yards for the touchdown. Valley would fail on the two-point conversion and took a 14-6 lead. Overall, Dooley had two receiving touchdowns and more than 100 yards receiving.
“Huge weapon on offense,” Piper said. “She plays both sides of the ball if I need her to. She’s a big threat for most anybody that’s going to play with her. I’m really looking forward to seeing her, and I’m pretty sure she’ll go somewhere with flag football.”
Opelika scored one more time on a passing touchdown with just 52.3 seconds left on the clock. Getting the win in double overtime may have been the boost that Piper and the rest of the coaching staff needed to push the program to new heights.
“It’s not only going to help us build a program, it’s going to help us build a stand full of people that are going to support us and people that want to follow us,” Piper said. “It’s going to help people who want to give us things that we need like water and just help fund the program in general because it’s a new program. Most people don’t know about it until they see stuff like this.”
After being taken out of the game to calm down, Simmons responded the way a starting quarterback should. After that play, Simmons had two more passing touchdowns. In total, Simmons had one rushing touchdown and two passing touchdowns.
“She calmed herself down,” Piper said. “She got frustrated with the refs. Which, I think we all did. It happens. She’s young, she’s a freshman. She’s got a lot to learn about controlling her temper and her personality, but she’s still going to be excellent.”
Up next for the Rams will be a road game against Prattville on Thursday.