SV's 440 rushing yards too much for Norsemen
Whitehall didn't have an answer for Spring Valley's running game on Friday, Oct. 20.
The No. 2-ranked Cardinals raced into the end zone eight times, and racked up 440 rushing yards against the seventh-seeded Norsemen for an impressive 58-24 WIAA Division 6 playoff win.
The rushing excitement began during the Cardinals' first drive of the night with a 75-yard keeper for sophomore quarterback Aaron Borgerding, who faked a handoff to Jaydon Nyeggen before running in for a touchdown himself.
Tyson Kado's extra point was successful following Borgerding's touchdown, and the Cardinals claimed an early 7-0 lead with 9:53 left in the first quarter.
Spring Valley's defense held the Norsemen to four and out in their next drive of the game to force a turnover on downs, but the Cardinals couldn't do much with their field position at their own 8-yard line.
The Norsemen took over at Spring Valley's 42-yard line, but fumbled at the 26-yard line when quarterback Parker Windjue couldn't get a grip on the snapped ball. The Cardinals recovered the loose ball, and it didn't take long for them to use the extra possession to their advantage.
Nyeggen attacked the same hole in Whitehall's defense that Borgerding found earlier in the game and ran for a 75-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 13-0 with 5:39 left in the first quarter.
Spring Valley was on the verge of holding Whitehall scoreless in the first quarter until Ben Ritter pushed through the Cardinal defense for a two-yard touchdown carry. Windjue's pass to Trimberger for the two-point conversion was too long, and the first quarter came to an end with a score of 13-6.
Nyeggen didn't waste any time before finding another open route in the second quarter of play. The senior running back attacked the left side of Whitehall's defense to score his second touchdown of the night on a 70-yard run. Kado ran the ball in on the two-point conversion attempt, and the score was set at 21-6 with 11:47 left in the half.
The next Norsemen drive started with a big tackle from Zach Larson, which set Whitehall back three yards at their own 42-yard line for third and 13. A Windjue pass to Edgar Velasquez brought the Norsemen to midfield, which gave them the positioning they needed to score their second touchdown of the night. Windjue found Tristan Wohlhoefer for an 18-yard passing touchdown and narrowed the deficit to nine with 10:11 left in the half.
But the Cardinals were just getting started.
Spring Valley went on to score two more touchdowns in the first half of the playoff game, crushing any Norsemen hopes of making a comeback.
Borgerding scored his second touchdown of the night on an 11-yard keeper, and the score was brought to 29-12 after Nyeggen's two-point conversion run was successful.
Whitehall made it to the Spring Valley 32-yard line in their next drive, but Kado picked off a Winjue pass, and Dylan Bosshart would go on to score another Cardinal touchdown with 2:08 left on the clock in the half. Borgerding found Craigen Anderson for a two-point conversion pass, and Spring Valley's lead was extended to 37-12 at the end of the first half.
Kado put on a clinic in the second half of the game.
Velasquez kicked off for the Norsemen to start the third quarter, and Kado returned the senior's kick for a 70-yard special teams touchdown. Kado kicked his own extra point and brought the score to 44-12 with 11:50 left in the third quarter.
The senior running back came back to score his second touchdown of the night in the next drive for the Cardinals on a 45-yard carry. Kado scored the Cardinals' 51st point after kicking a successful extra point after his touchdown.
Whitehall was able to score again with 5:41 left in the third quarter on a nine-yard Ritter run, but the Norsemen kick fell right into the hands of Kado, which proved to be just as dangerous for the Norsemen as their previous kickoff.
Kado returned the Norsemen kickoff for a 75-yard touchdown run, and set his team's final score at 58 after kicking another extra point for the Cardinals.
Kado finished the game with three touchdowns, 101 rushing yards, 145 kickoff return yards and five-and-a-half tackles.
Kado credited his touchdowns to his teammates who made big blocks for him against the Norsemen.
"It was all the line," Kado said. "I just read what the line did and broke off that and went from there."
The senior running back said that his team was nervous coming into the first playoff game of the year, but that his team was able to bring it on in the second half of play.
Cardinals head coach Ryan Kapping said his team stayed on their blocks, which led to Kado's running success.
"Our guys finished blocks, and I thought our backs all did a good job of finding creases and finishing runs," Kapping said.
Whitehall scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter after Kapping put in his junior varsity players, but the final score was set at 58-24 in Spring Valley's favor.
Kado said letting the junior varsity players get some time on the field in a playoff game felt great. "They always work so hard in practice, and they deserve it," Kado said.
Along with Kado, Nyeggen also played a large role in Spring Valley's playoff win. Nyeggen recorded 169 rushing yards on seven attempts, scored two touchdowns and came up with three tackles against Whitehall.
Borgerding also scored two touchdowns, recorded 82 rushing yards and made six tackles.
Santana Schlegel and Jarod Rielly led the Cardinals' defense with seven tackles each.
Kapping said Whitehall was the type of team that gives the Cardinals the most trouble with their spread-out offense, but that he thought his team's defense did a good job of pressuring the Norsemen offense and holding them to one touchdown against their varsity squad in the second half.
"We still need to improve, but I think we've improved from where we were at earlier in the year against this style of offense," Kapping said of his team's defense.
Windjue went 22-51 on passing attempts for 318 yards, 123 of which went to Norsemen wide receiver Mitchell Thompson.
The Norsemen only rushed for 51 yards compared to Spring Valley's 440 rushing yards.
Whitehall's season comes to an end with a final 5-5 record, but Spring Valley will advance to the second round of playoffs where they'll face No. 3-seeded Regis—the defending Division 6 state champions—at home on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.
"We're going to have to be ready to play our best game of the year," Kapping said of his team's upcoming game against Regis, a fast, well-coached team. "There will be no margin for error."