WV Defense Shines Again In Semi-Final 24-17 Victory Over Ellensburg
West Valley's stellar defensive unit had another marvelous game shutting down a potent Ellensburg offense that came in averaging 42 points and limited them to a season low 17 validating the fact that defense wins playoff football games.
Ellensburg's star QB Ethan Sterkel was under relentless pressure from the WV defensive front all game that included a very creative blitz package resulting in numerous sacks, hurries and knock downs. But it wasn't all defense as the offensive unit played turnover free scoring twice on the ground, once through the air and once by a field goal to put 24 points on the board.
It didn't stop there as West Valley turned in another strong special teams performance on a blocked punt that set up WV's third, and clinching, TD of the game. West Valley won all 3 phases of the football game - offense, defense and special teams - in handing Ellensburg, the #1 ranked team in state, their first and only loss of the season.
The win pushed GNL Champion West Valley's perfect record to 13-0 as they are bound for The Dome to determine the 2A champion next week.
GNL coach of the year Craig Whitney's game plan called for ground control offense, blitzing/aggressive defense and a major focus on eliminating turnovers. His WV Eagle team responded to all elements of that plan.
West Valley received the opening kickoff and started the game strong with a drive that covered 64 yards, mostly on the ground giving West Valley a quick 7-0 lead. The WV O-line dominated this drive creating large openings on both sides of the line. The big play in the drive was a Dylan Ellsworth 44 yard run that eventually set up QB Drew Clausen for a 1 yard QB sneak.
Ellensburg's first possession on offense went nowhere as the suffocating WV defense held them to a 3-and-out series. On WV's second offensive possession they went up 10-0 on a 29 yard Randall Harris FG. The big play in this drive was a 35 yard strike from Clausen to WR Mitch Peterson who got behind the Ellensburg CB.
Another defensive stop by WV on Ellensburg's ensuing possession forced an Ellensburg punt , and once again West Valley marched downfield to score. This time the score came on another Clausen to Peterson connection that covered 28 yards on 4th and 7 giving WV a 17-0 lead and control of the game.
With 1:18 to go in the half, Ellensburg took over on their own 25 yard line and delivered their most impressive drive of the game. On the first play of this drive strong-armed Ethan Sterkel, who got excellent protection on this play, found Sungyoung Lee on a backside post for 47 yards. Two plays later Sterkel would hook up with WR Adam Haberman on a short TD pass cutting WV's lead to 17-7. This drive covered 75 yards in 3 plays in less than a minute showing just how potent the Ellensburg offense can be.
Ellensburg opened the 2nd half with the ball and had to punt as their first drive stalled.
The Ellensburg D played tough containing WV's offense on their first possession to a quick 3 downs and out - the WV punt giving Ellensburg short field on WV's 41 yard line. The Eagles D would hold Ellensburg to only a field goal as the WV lead gets cut to 17-10.
On WV's next offensive possession they managed just one first down before punting again as Ellensburg's defense begins to flex their collective muscle. The West Valley defense answers holding Ellensburg to another 3 downs and out. What happened next proved to be the turning point of the game. On 4th down with Ellensburg punting deep in their own territory, LB Tyler Poldevart broke through Ellensburg's line and blocked the punt. Joe Aubert (LB) recovered on Ellensburg's 8 yard line setting up first and goal WV.
Two plays later on the first play of the 4th quarter, Clausen would score his second TD of the game on a 5 yard run giving West Valley a 24-10 lead with 11:54 to go in the game. More importantly, momentum was back on WV's side.
However, a tough Ellensburg team was down - but not out. They responded with a long 68 yard TD drive capped by a Connor Meehan 1 yard dive to pull within a TD at 24-17 making it a one possession game with 6 minutes left in the game. On this drive Ellensburg's offense converted on several 3rd downs and a key 4th down play keeping the drive alive. From a time perspective this was an expensive drive as it burned 6 precious minutes of game clock.
WV would get the ball on their own 32 yard line with 6 minutes to go and never relinquish the football. The West Valley O-line once again dominated the Ellensburg D-line with a run-only, time consuming drive, all the way down to the Ellensburg 1 yard line with 2 minutes on the game clock. Ellensburg consumed all 3 of their timeouts on this drive allowing WV to take a knee three consecutive times to run out the clock for a final score of 24-17. Most impressive in this drive were 5 separate running plays covering 9 or more yards against an Ellensburg defense that knew the run was coming and was helpless to stop it. The Eagles never went to the air one time in this drive. WV simply sealed the victory with a "pound- it-out , straight- ahead power brand of play", with the game in the balance.
GAME HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE WV EAGLES:
Rushing Krys Smith 18-97, Dylan Ellsworth 12-96 and Drew Clausen 14-63 with 2 TD's and 106 yards passing
Receiving Mitch Peterson 2-63 with TD and 104 All Purpose Yards
The WV Defense held Ellensburg to under 100 yards rushing, completely shut down the Sterkel-Ferrell air show and held Sterkel to about half of his usual passing yardage (12-21-172 yards and 1TD).
Go to receiver Kramer Ferrell was held to 3 receptions for 34 yards and Blaze Affholter was held to 1 reception for 0 yards and a fumble off that catch on a ferocious hit delivered by Safety/LB Mitch Peterson. Lee led the Ellensburg receivers with 3 catches for 87 yards.
This coming Saturday at 10AM in the Tacoma Dome, West Valley (13-0) will face the defending 2008 state champion Lynden Lions (12-1) to determine the 2009 2A state champion.