Trojans fall to valley in battle for region’s top spot

Published 11:24 pm Friday, October 25, 2019

VALLEY – The rain that was expected Friday evening in east Alabama never materialized until the contest was over, but Valley High sophomore running back Willie Baker, Jr., was a force of nature, rushing for 314 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Rams to a 41-20 win over Charles Henderson High.

The win by Valley gives the Rams the Class 5A, Region 2 championship as they improve to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in the region, while CHHS drops to 4-4 on the year and 4-2 in region competition.

Both teams have one regular season game remaining before the Class 5A playoffs begin.

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Valley quickly got on the board as Baker scored his first touchdown on a 2-yard carry on a drive that took only two plays, the score set up by a 42-yard pass play from quarterback Tirus Patten to Willis Kennedy to the CHHS 2, with Baker scoring on the next play.

CHHS tied the score with 3:46 to go in the first quarter when senior quarterback Pooka Jones hit Bradley Caldwell for a 54-yard touchdown reception, Hayden Bush kicked and it was 7-7.

The Rams added another touchdown in the second quarter when Baker busted a 49-yard run, Michael Davis kicked the extra point and Valley led 14-7 with 3:06 to go in the first half.

The Trojans attempted to make a game of it in the second half, taking the kickoff and moving 75 yards in three plays, with Jones finding Sean McKinney open for a 74-yard touchdown strike. Bush kicked to make it 14-14 with 10:58 remaining in the third quarter.

CHHS took the lead on their next possession as Jones connected with Jay Taylor for a 30-yard touchdown pass play, the extra point was blocked and it was 20-14 CHHS at 8:51 in the third.

That touchdown was set up by a key interception by CHHS linebacker J.B. Sanders.

Valley responded with a touchdown drive on their next series, with Baker accelerating for a 53-yard touchdown haul, the kick was good and the Rams led 21-20 at the 7:31 mark.

Baker scored his next touchdown on a 12-yard carry for a 28-20 lead in the third period and put the Rams up 35-20 in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard carry.

On the next possession for the Rams Baker exploded for a 75-yard sprint, zig-zagging the last 20 yards to elude tacklers, and giving the Rams the 41-20 lead, which held up to be the final score.

Baker amassed 318 yards on the night on 32 carries, scoring on runs of 2, 49, 53, 12, 2 and 75.

CHHS was led in rushing by Jonathan Carter with 49 yards on 11 carries, while Jones was 19 of 38 for 319 yards and three touchdown passes.

The game was unfortunately marred by penalties, with an unofficial count of 20 on the night combined for both teams, with four CHHS players being ejected at different times for unsportsmanlike conduct calls.

Valley ends the regular season at Benjamin Russell next Friday while CHHS travels to Baldwin County High School.