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Wildcats take back trophy
After losing to rivals Cedarcrest last year and watching the Valley Cup trophy get carted off by an elated Red Wolves team, the Wildcats had one goal in mind: bring the trophy back to Mount Si. They did that in fine fashion, dominating the annual Valley Cup game from start to finish in a 27-14 win.
The two teams have played each other for more than 50 years, first as the Lower Valley players were called Tolt and more recently as Cedarcrest. For years it was a one-sided event with Mount Si taking the honors. In 1997 that changed and a determined Cedarcrest team, led by Brent Robertson, stunned the 'Cats, winning 31-19. The trophy has gone back and forth ever since with each game played like it was the only football game on earth.
This year was no exception as both teams gave it everything they had to get the trophy.
"My hat is off to them," said Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune. "That Cedarcrest bunch played really hard, as they always do for this game."
For Mount Si Michael Lindor stepped into the role of team leader for the game, catching three passes for a total of 52 yards and making several key stops defensively. For the Red Wolves it was all about Jake Ballingham who played quarterback at times, receiver, kicker and defensive back, scoring one touchdown on a 53-yard run.
The Wildcats' first score came after impressive running by Cody Hyatt, Michael Keller and Ian Opsal. The wind, gusting to 50 miles per hour during the game, kept the passing attack in check most of the night. After driving to the 8-yard line the Wildcats had to settle for a field goal by Chris Brown, giving Mount Si a 3-0 lead with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
Bell-ringing tackles by Hyatt kept the Cedarcrest running game off balance all night. Several tackles were for lost yardage as the Red Wolves tried to fire up its offense.
Early in the second quarter, after an outstanding run by Opsal, Mount Si quarterback Alex Smart tucked the ball away on an option and blasted down the sideline 44 yards for a second touchdown. The point after failed, but Mount Si had the lead 9-0 with 1:11 left in the second quarter.
The next several drives went back and forth with neither team getting within scoring distance. With 2:21 left in the first half, Smart threw a beautiful pass to the waiting arms of Lindor, who stretched to the Cedarcrest 38-yard line.
"He put it up in the air and I grabbed it," said Lindor. "Too bad he [the Red Wolves' defender] was right behind me."
With 1:08 on the clock in the first half, Smart found Evan Hillburn across the middle for a 34-yard touchdown pass play. The Wildcats tried a two-point conversion with a dump pass by Smart, but the ball fell to the ground. Mount Si had a commanding 15-0 lead with a minute left on the clock.
The Wildcats' good fortune didn't end there in the first half. Two plays later, with Cedarcrest on their own 33-yard line, Keller snagged an interception and rambled into the end zone. Again the extra point was no good but Mount Si had a 21-0 lead heading into the locker room at the end of the first half.
For the complete story, pick up a copy of this week's Valley Record