CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth/Clovis senior Shea Chase rips through a while in the Valley High line during Saturday’s game at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque.
ALBUQUERQUE — The Clovis Wildcat linemen flattened the Valley Viking defense like hash browns in a late-night diner, allowing running backs to shoot through gaping lanes more fit for loading docks and airport runways.
In all the Wildcats churned out 260 yards on the ground and routed the Vikings 42-0 Saturday night in what players and coaches described as a confidence builder following last week’s homecoming loss.
“They’re much stronger than us, and just bench pressed us off the line of scrimmage,” Viking head coach Vince Collins said.
In his first night back from an injury, junior Phillip Williams racked up 62 yards on six carries, including a 45-yard run in the first quarter. Mark Replogle added 57 yards on 10 carries and Devin Hanson logged in 64 yards in the second half.
They were constantly able to push through a meager and depleted Viking defensive line.
“The running backs did a great job tonight, each one of them ran hard throughout this game,” Wildcat assistant coach Darren Kelly said. “Replogle ran hard, (Chase) Shea ran hard; something we didn’t do a great job of last week. It was the first game for Phillip Williams and good to get him in the game a couple of games before district.”
The Wildcats shocked the Vikings just a 1 1/2 minutes into the game when Replogle scored on a 9-yard run following a Viking fumble on the opening kickoff.
Just four minutes later, quarterback John Props connected with Ben Teconchuk on a 38-yard touchdown pass that deflated an already sluggish Viking offense.
And by halftime, the scoring was over.
The victory gave Wildcat players confidence in a season already marred with two losses.
“The biggest thing about this victory is we now know if we work hard, and do what we’re supposed to, we have a chance to be successful,” Kelly said. “And we worked hard in practice this week. The kids did a great job of working hard, and they put the extra effort forward and it showed on the field. If we would have done that last week we wouldn’t have lost so bad.”
Not to be overshadowed by the running game, Props was able to pick apart the Viking secondary for 98 yards, including two touchdown passes to Teconchuk, one on a perfectly-thrown 18-yard fade pass with four seconds before halftime.
“I saw them playing pretty tight on Ben (Teconchuk) and figured I would throw it up and let him use his speed — he’s the fastest guy on the team,” Props said.
“This game is great for our confidence,” he added.
The Vikings could only muster 84 yards, almost half of which came on a 38-yard run by quarterback Eric Concini in the first half. Viking running back Avery Linton added 27 yards on nine carries.
Collins said he was extremely disappointed in his team’s effort and said he even let them call their own plays.
“I told them at halftime that normally this is where we make adjustments,” Collins said. “I told them I would let them make the plays because it’s not going to matter if they don’t block anybody.”
He added that the Wildcats are fundamentally sound, and even bad teams can win games if well-coached.
“They have good technique, and that’s the kind of football I like,” Collins said. “They’re kids are technically sound, and that will help you win games whether you are good or not.”