The Valier Junior High football team went 2-0 last week with wins over Heart Butte and North Star.
Against Heart Butte on Tuesday the team fell behind 19-0 in the first quarter but came back to take an exciting 28-25 victory.
Tristen Valdez scored two touchdowns to lead the offense, one on the ground and one off a pass from Sage Spinner. Chantz Connelly also caught a TD pass from Spinner while Reed Briggs scored on a rushing touchdown and converted two PAT kicks in the win.
“It sounds like a coaching cliche, but it really was an outstanding performance by the whole team,” said coach John Briggs. “I remember at the end of the game I was able to point to each member of my starting rotation and pick out a big play that each of them had. Furthermore I think its fair to say that had any of them not had their moment, we probably would not have won that game.”
After falling behind 19-0 in the first quarter, Valdez scored the lone Panther touchdown in the first half. He also intercepted a Heart Butte pass to keep the Warriors out of the end zone.
Jonas Horn had a big day on both sides of the ball as he powered the Panther run game with his hard running and lead blocking as well as recording some big hits defensively. Briggs battled through a nasty case of the stomach flu to score the go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and also had an interception in the contest. Connelly had a breakout performance for the Panthers with a 50 yard catch and run in the third quarter that Coach Briggs called the turning point in the game. Connelly also recorded an interception on the next Heart Butte possession. Spinner not only had a great offensive game balancing the ground and passing game but had a touchdown saving tackle on a kick off.
Coach Briggs gave a lot of credit to his linemen, Jacob Kuka, Kade VanHaur and Dillon Connelly, as they were nearly flawless in their scheme execution and continue to improve on their blocking abilities every week.
“Overall I’m just very proud of these boys and their efforts,” said Briggs. “It’s never easy to come back from a deficit, especially on the road. To come back from three scores down shows a lot of heart and determination in my book.”
Saturday the Panthers took on North Star and dominated the Knights 24-6.
Spinner threw for a touchdown to Valdez for the Panthers first score of the game and later the Panther quarterback was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from Horn. Briggs converted the PAT on all three Panther touchdowns in the win.
“This was probably our best performance of the season so far,” said Coach Briggs. “The boys all played really well but I thought Reed, Tristen, Jonas and Sage stood out for us.”
Reed Briggs was a perfect 3-3 on his PAT attempts and also was a defensive monster for the Panthers with eight solo tackles and six assisted tackles. Valdez contributed to both the ground and air attack for the Panthers and according to Briggs always seems to show up with at least one or two big receptions when needed. Horn didn’t get as many offensive touches but did a fantastic job lead blocking and threw a touchdown pass that came on a fourth down conversion. Spinner is continuing to gain confidence with his passing game and managing the Panther offense.
The Panthers will be at home this Friday as they take on Hot Springs at 4 p.m.