The Valor Football Team traveled to Jeffco Stadium over fall break to take on the 5-1 Lakewood Tigers in the second game of Mt. Lincoln Conference play. The 4:00pm start was unconventional, but the Eagles were ready at the start, with junior Luke McCaffrey taking the opening kickoff and racing 85 yards while breaking tackles to put the Eagles up 7-0 early. The Eagle defense took the field, fresh off a strong performance in Week 1 of conference, looking to hold down a strong Tiger offense, and that is exactly what transpired. Valor held Lakewood to just 51 yards over 18 plays throughout the first half, with linebackers Jaden Murray, Alexis Chavez-Salinas and Ethan Zemla leading the team in tackles. Salinas had a key diving interception which set up a Valor TD late in the second quarter. The defensive line applied strong pressure throughout the course of the half, allowing the LB’s space to roam. Offensively, the Eagles started a little slow, coming up empty on their first two drives of the game before a balanced third drive which led to a touchdown. McCaffrey handed the ball to Easton Cecil who plunged into the end zone for his first score of the season and a 14-0 lead. One of the key plays of the drive was a fourth down and 4 completion from McCaffrey to Ryan Thibault for one of his five catches on the night. McCaffrey and Thibault connected on a 42-yard reception on first down of the ensuing possession, followed by an option play from Blake Stenstrom to Luke for the score, making the score 21-0 at halftime.
The second half saw much of the same from the Valor defense, giving up just 80 yards over 26 plays. Many defensive players were able to get some well-deserved experience during the final 24 minutes, with Brian Brogan, Dana Palazzo, James Reese and Nate Sitzman holding tough in the secondary while Cole Davis, Jack Lewis, Cam Smith and Darius Wayne anchored the line. Smith, Wayne and Lewis each recorded second half sacks!
Offensively, Valor executed with strong precision in the second half, scoring touchdowns on all three of their drives. On the night, the quarterback tandem of Stenstrom and McCaffrey completed 12 of their 17 passes for 138 yards. The rushing attack was led by McCaffrey’s 124 yards and two touchdowns, with Joshia Davis adding 75 yards and a score. Chavez-Salinas had his best rushing night of the year as well, adding 45 yards on six carries.
The Eagles now turn their attention to their neighbors, the Highlands Ranch Falcons. The two schools will kickoff on Friday night at 7:00pm at Shea Stadium in a heavyweight matchup of two top ten Colorado 5A programs.