JONESBORO — Valley View’s defense passed its first test last week at Gosnell. Another exam awaits the Blazers on Friday as they make another trip to Mississippi County to take on Rivercrest.
The Colts did as they pleased last week in a 56-24 rout of Paragould, one of Valley View’s 5A-East conference foes. Led by senior quarterback Kam Turner, Rivercrest rolled up 43 points in the first half and finished the night with 425 total yards.
“Offensively they are probably one of the most athletic teams I’ve seen, with Turner at quarterback especially,” Valley View head coach Sean Cockrell said.
“He can kind of do anything he wants and it all starts with him. They’ll be very, very tough to defend. They can throw it, they can run it and he’s going to be one we have to stop for sure.”
While the Colts (1-0) ran wild in their opener, the Blazers (1-0) won in different fashion. A defense featuring nine new starters kept Gosnell out of the end zone for 32-plus minutes as Valley View won 20-6.
Junior middle linebacker Cooper Lutz led the Blazers with 13 total tackles, including eight solo stops. Lutz was also credited with a forced fumble as well as an interception.
“He played really well. All the way until the week before the Gosnell game, he was playing on offense,” Cockrell said. “He was playing H-back for us and we moved him over to linebacker. He’s got a lot of work to do, but for his first game being on defense, he was really good.”
Junior linebacker Kannon Jones had 11 tackles, while sophomore cornerback Jay Morman finished with seven solo tackles and eight total. Senior nose tackle Eli Lassiter had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage and blocked a punt that junior linebacker Jaden Hamilton Wells recovered for a touchdown.
Junior running back Layne Rains led the Blazers in rushing with 77 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Senior Jeb Rapert also added a rushing score. Senior quarterback Zac Stracener finished 13-of-24 passing for 158 yards, with senior receiver Aedan Huntsman catching nine passes for 113 yards.
“I thought the defense played really well with so much inexperience that we have. I felt like those guys really stepped up and had a good game, and we had a good game plan and executed,” Cockrell said.
“The offense came out really, really good and kind of stalled out in the second half. We scored 13 points really quick and then faltered there; Gosnell did came out and did some good things against us defensively.”
Turner threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score, all in the first half, against Paragould. He finished with 307 yards total offense, 216 passing and 91 rushing. Keshawn Scott was Rivercrest’s top receiver with six catches for 119 yards.
“They scored any time they wanted,” Cockrell said. “Defensively they fly around the ball, they blitz people all the time trying to disrupt. I think the last two years they’ve intercepted us nine times, so they’re really good in the secondary, really good at finding the ball.”
A last-minute touchdown pass gave the Blazers a 7-3 victory over the Colts last season.
Friday night’s contest at Rivercrest’s Cortez Kennedy Field presently stands as Valley View’s last non-conference game. Cockrell said the Blazers have yet to find an opponent for Sept. 18.