The Valier Panthers football team still has something to say about who might be this year’s 6-man state champion, and they have momentum on their side.
The Panthers earned their first playoff win since 2017 on Friday night, when they dismantled the Noxon Red Devils, 52-8, on their home field.
Valier (6-1, 8-2) is the No. 2 seed out of the North, while Noxon was the No. 2 from the West. Friday’s victory secured a second-round game at two-time defending state champion Froid-Medicine Lake (7-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Red Hawks trailed Denton-Geyser-Stanford-Geraldine 20-7 on Saturday but battled back for a 49-32 win in the first round.
The Panthers showed signs of domination early in the game Friday, mixed with a string of miscues.
The Red Devils fumbled on their first drive and senior Joe Ramos pounced on the ball. Valier’s first drive of the night included a personal foul for an illegal block and a fumble on third and long that they were able to hang onto.
A pass interference penalty on a throw to senior Tyler VandenBos in the end zone had Valier knocking on the door for their first score, but senior running back Wes Edwards fumbled at the goal line and Noxon got the ball back.
Valier’s defense held, and on their next possession Tristen Valdez and Rylee Gabbard dropped wide open passes in the end zone on consecutive plays before senior quarterback Kamden Broesder scrambled to the right for a 16-yard rushing TD to open the scoring.
“We came out and had a couple of drops early, but they stayed focused and didn’t get down,” Valier head coach Shane Broesder said after the game.
Kamden Broesder scored on a similar play for Valier’s second TD. Broesder finished with 79 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the night. The Panthers had 143 rushing yards total.
Broesder passed for another 124 yards and two TDs to finish with a five-TD game.
Valdez led the Panthers in receiving with 54 yards and a touchdown, while Ramos grabbed a TD reception as well. Edwards punched one into the end zone on the ground.
The Valier defense held Noxon to just 75 total yards — 48 rushing and 27 passing, and just 9 yards in the first half.
The defense was bolstered by an interception by VandenBos and the fumble recovery by Ramos.
“Last year we were one of those teams that was happy to make the playoffs,” Coach Broesder said. “This year we’re making noise. We’re not just happy to be here. We’ve got bigger dreams and aspirations, and these guys have been working hard and deserve it.”
Edwards, the team’s starting running back, injured his ankle in the regular season finale at Big Sandy.
“He was nowhere near 100% today,” Coach Broesder said. “He didn’t play a lot. Luckily, the game script worked out where we were able to rest him and save him for next week.”
Junior Jonas Horn returned to action for the first time in several weeks after suffering a knee injury during the regular season.
Conference foe Big Sandy, the No.1 team in the state, steamrolled Savage 61-6 on Saturday and will play Custer-Hysham-Melstone this weekend. Those teams are on the opposite side of the bracket from Valier. A win this weekend would put the Panthers into the state semifinals against either Roy-Winifred or Broadview-Lavina.