The Valier Panthers are back in the state six-man semifinals for the second year in a row after a 40-7 victory over Winnett/Grass Range. The Panthers intercepted the first three pass attempts from their opponent as the local gridders rode their defense and a balanced offensive attack into yet another home playoff game, with the chance to advance to the championship game that eluded the program a season ago.
Trever VandenBos put the Panthers on the board in the first quarter with a three-yard rush to the end zone and a 6-0 lead at the end of one.
Koltin Christiaens connected with Colten Curry eight seconds into the second stanza on a seven-yard touchdown reception and the senior duo connected on the PAT for a 13-0 Panther lead. Curry then found Dustin Steele 20-yards down field for a touchdown and Trever VandenBos’ PAT put Valier up 20-0 at the half.
Curry hauled in a Christiaens’ pass for the lone score of the third quarter, a 33-yard reception, and VandenBos caught the PAT for a 27-0 lead with one quarter remaining.
Christiaens and VandenBos hooked up on a 14-yard touchdown pass which gave the Panthers a commanding 33-0 lead before WGR finally put themselves on the board with 3:23 remaining in the game.
Valier’s Brock Barcus put the finishing touches on the game as he scored from one yard out and Steele converted the PAT for the game’s final score of 40-7.
Curry had a fantastic day on both sides of the ball as he intercepted three WGR passes, to go along with 117 receiving yards on nine catches.
Wacey Running Crane led the Valier offensive attack on the ground with 139 yards followed by Barcus with 40 and Tanner VandenBos with 33. Christians connected on 18-31 passes for 200 yards. Dylan Monroe led the defense with 11 tackles followed by Steele with 10 and Trever VandenBos with nine.
“Defensively we played well and got back to playing our kind of defense,” said head coach Eric Watson. “Offensively I thought we played well. Any game you can have over 450 yards of total offense it’s a productive day. It was cold but we played well and will be prepared for whatever the elements may be this weekend.”
The Panthers will now host Westby/Grenora (MonDak) in their semifinal match-up with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. in Valier.
“MonDak has a high power offense that we will need to contain and we will need to continue to put points on the board if we are going to be successful,” said Watson. “We are ready and will be prepared.”
Watson and his squad wanted to thank the dads and Robert Swanson for their work in getting the field ready for last weekend’s game. And offered a big thanks to Big Sky Equipment and Kurt Christiaens for loaning their power brush to clean the field off.
“Rain, snow or shine come get behind these boys and cheer them on this week