Dallas Starts Strong, But Sees Season End At Valley View
PECKVILLE — On its first drive of the night, Dallas checked off all the boxes. The Mountaineers completed a few passes, established a little bit of the run game and was able to convert three third down play calls.
It was certainly an encouraging sign for the Mountaineers, especially after quarterback Michael Lukasavage hit Dan Meuser with an 11-yard touchdown pass to put the Mountaineers ahead early.
But just like the last time Dallas played Valley View, the Cougars responded scoring the next seven times the offense took the field. It was more than enough for the Cougars, who won their second consecutive District 2 Class 4A championship with a 49-14 victory, Sunday night at John Henzes Veterans Stadium.
Valley View, now 13-0 on the year, advances to the state tournament and will face perennial power Imhotep Charter this weekend at a site and time to be announced. Dallas ends the year 11-2 with its only two losses coming at the hands of Valley View.
“Most people would think that would put fear in our hearts, we just kept our head in there and drove right down the field and scored on them,” said Valley View quarterback Janaasah Boone. “It was kind of unexpected. We were expecting to come in and give it to them. That drive just woke us up.”
And it showed. Boone said that was the first time all season a team took the opening kick and marched down the field and scored on the Cougars. Valley View has now given up a total of 27 points all season in the opening quarter.
But the Dallas lead did not last long.
Boone was a big reason why. He finished the night throwing for 146 yards and five touchdowns. He also kept the Mountaineers off balance with his ability to escape the pocket and pickup yards when the defensive coverage down the field limited his options. He was also effective on designed runs where he simply kept the snap and found a crease to slip through.
Boone scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game, then the turning point came on the next Dallas possession. Jaden Duplessis picked off a pass at the Dallas 39 and returned it to the 13. Boone then found Duplessis on a 13-yard touchdown pass to put the Cougars ahead for good.
It was a scenario the Mountaineers knew all too well. In the first meeting in Week 8, a 33-0 Valley View win, the Cougars scored a quick touchdown then returned an interception for a score.
“We didn’t respond,” said Dallas coach Rich Mannello. “That is one heck of a football team. We are still not there physically. We have more work to do in the weight room. We will give them a few weeks off and then start moving the metal again.”
Valley View scored three more times before the end of the first half. Running back Mason Kordish scored on a 7-yard run, before Boone hooked up with Duplessis again, this time on a 6-yard pass. On that call, Boone took off around the left side, waited for the Dallas defense to close in, and then did a neat little jump pass that Duplessis caught in the middle of the end zone.
“That was a designed run play,” Boone said. “I told my receivers instead of blocking to just run. I just dumped it in there because I knew the corners and safeties were going to come down.”
Kordish hauled in a touchdown pass just before the end of the second quarter that gave the Cougars a 35-7 lead.
“We got to the next level, but that is the next step,” Mannello said as he pointed over to where the Valley View players were celebrating the district title. We still have more work to do in the weight room.”
That work, according to Mannello, will be focused on the offensive line and developing depth. Mannello knows what direction he wants to go, and the work will soon begin to get there.
“The offensive line, we have to develop that next level of linemen after the starters,” Mannello said. “They are not physically ready to play right now. We have to close the gap between that next six to 12 or 14, regardless of grade. They have to be physically ready to play. On the defensive line, you can take a linebacker and have him play with his hands down. Those offensive linemen take development, and that is our next step.”
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