Valley runs over rival Burrell
LOWER BURRELL -- Valley's offensive line has been a work in progress this season.
But as the playoffs approach, Vikings coach Troy Hill thinks he's finally found the right combination.
The line paved the way for 320 rushing yards, including 187 for Tracey Durand and 113 for Bryan Hetrick, as Valley used a strong second half to down Burrell, 26-7, on Friday night in the 29th edition of the local rivalry.
Valley finished third in the Allegheny Conference with a 7-2 record and will be on the road when the playoffs open next weekend. Burrell concluded its season at 3-6.
"I have to give credit to our offensive line coach, Donny Frederick," Vikings coach Troy Hill said. "He does a great job. We were mixing and matching guys in there, but tonight, we think we could have found the right group."
The victory was Valley's third straight over Burrell, and the Vikings now lead the Bucs in the all-time series, 19-10.
Burrell started out as if it wanted to reverse the recent tide, moving the ball well in a 56-yard drive that chewed up more than five minutes of the first quarter. The Bucs appeared stalled, however, at the Valley 17-yard line. Brian Shaw kicked an apparent 34-yard field goal, but the Vikings were called for offsides, giving the Bucs a first down.
Three plays later, Bucs quarterback Camren Nelson found sophomore receiver Dave Yakopec alone in the end zone after a Valley defender slipped.
But that was about it for Burrell, as the Vikings defense stiffened, limiting the Bucs to just one first down the rest of the way.
"We came out excited and played with them for a while," Burrell coach Tom Henderson said. "They're a good football team. They run to the ball very well defensively. The make life difficult for any team."
Durand, playing in only his third game of the season, got back to his workhorse ways similar to what he did during the second half of the 2007 campaign. Last night, Durand added a 9-yard run to get the Vikings on the scoreboard with 9:31 left in the second period. A two-point conversion pass failed, allowing Burrell to maintain a 7-6 advantage.
Durand put Valley ahead to stay on the next possession with a 6-yard run after the Bucs were flagged for pass interference.
"I can't say enough about this team and this coaching staff," Durand said. "I'm just about back."
Senior Hetrick rushed for all of his yards in the second half, as the Vikings line opened up gaping holes for 56-yard run in the third quarter and a 41-yard scamper in the fourth period to secure the victory.
"Valley-Burrell, that's all you have to say," Hill said. "It's always an emotional game. We hung in there; we stuck to the plan. It took us a little time to get it together, but we executed."
Henderson, who won his 100th career game earlier this season, thanked his players for a quality effort.
"I'm very proud of the kids; they gave everything they had," Henderson said as his return season ended after a two-year absence. "They worked hard from the first day of practice to the fourth quarter tonight."
Playoff pairings will be announced Monday. Valley is 5-11 all-time in WPIAL playoff action.