Valley looking to start deep playoff run
Published 1:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Valley hosts a playoff game for the first since 2019, and the Rams look to make it a prolonged run as B.C. Rain comes into Ram Stadium on Friday night.
The seniors on this Valley team were not even freshmen when the Rams last played in a playoff game. Now, those same seniors have a chance to set a new standard for the program and the community.
“You want to get in the playoffs, and now you want to make a run in the playoffs,” Valley coach Adam Hunter said.
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“You’ve got to learn how to practice in the playoffs, you’ve got to learn how to compete in the playoffs, and this team has not been there before. It’s important that we take that, learn from it and we do a good job in this game. Going past the first round is huge for the program in the future. It’s also huge for these seniors. They’re laying the groundwork for what we’re trying to do, and that’s making the playoffs every year.”
The Rams come into the matchup as a two-seed with a 7-3 record. The Red Raiders come into the matchup as a three-seed with an identical record.
B.C. Rain relies heavily on the play of Amari Yelding at quarterback. The Red Raiders have several playmakers on the outside at Yelding’s disposal, but ultimately the team is looking to set up for deep shots on offense.
“They’ve got some athletes,” Hunter said. “They’re going to try and get the ball in space to their athletes. They’re going to try to run it a little bit with the counter. They want to give their quarterback a chance to throw the ball deep. We’ve got our hands full. We’ve got to contain the quarterback, but we’ve also got to tackle well [because] they’ve got a good running back.”
B.C. Rain has a stout defense, but Hunter believes that his team can attack several weaknesses on the outside.
“We think we can throw the football,” Hunter said. “I think we’ve got to get the ball out in space to our playmakers, and we’ve got to establish the run.”
A lot of what the Rams have done on offense this season has hinged on Cam Dooley. Over the last three games, Dooley has averaged just over 283 all-purpose yards, and he has totaled nine touchdowns.
“Cam has done a great job throwing,” Hunter said. “He’s more poised in the pocket this year. He also can run, and that’s opened things up for him as well.”
Some of the Credit for the season that Dooley has had belongs to Tilyn Carrell. Carrell has stepped up to become a force at running back for Valley. Carrell’s play has made it tough for defenses to key on any one aspect of the Rams’ offense.
“Tilyn being able to run more has helped Cam in the passing game,” Hunter said. “Teams are trying to stop the run. We can exploit them [by] throwing the ball.”
Brandon Thomas, Ian Crim-Davis and Jay Harper are going to be a big part of what Valley does on Friday. Crim-Davis and Harper are pivotal players on both sides of the ball. Thomas adds size on the outside, and he is a mismatch against most defensive backs.
“Anytime we feel like we can stretch the field or throw the jump ball, we feel very confident in Brandon catching the football,” Hunter said. “Ian has been great on our underneath routes. He’s bailed us out a bunch of times in that aspect. Jay, he’s our speed guy. We feel like, we get the ball to him, he can make plays.”
Valley lost its regular season finale 35-19 to Benjamin Russell. The Wildcats are a one-seed in 6A.
After each previous loss, the Rams responded by winning by more than 20 points the next week. Hunter expects nothing less from his guys this week.
“The kids bounce back well,” Hunter said. “I thought they really wanted to win that ballgame, and they fought and competed. We’ve lost to some really good football teams. This team can be really good. That’s what we’ve built off of this whole season, not just the one game.”
Crowds in Ram stadium have been electric this season, and Hunter expects nothing less on Friday night. Valley is the only public school in the county with a home playoff game, and the community should show up in droves.
“Our community is going to come out and support these kids,” Hunter said. “They’ve done it all year. It’s going to be a good atmosphere. You want to pack the stands, and we want to get out there and play in front of a bunch of folks.”