by Justin Vigil-Zuniga
The Signal Santa Clarita Valley
Servite Friars football boasted a pair of three-touchdown days in the team’s Division 2 playoff opener win over the Valencia Vikings.
The Friars won the game, 48-24, behind three-score days from running back Quaid Carr and quarterback Leo Hannan.
Servite (6-5) swung the odds in their favor after two touchdowns and an interception in the third quarter, before hammering in another pair of Carr scores in the fourth quarter.
Valencia (9-2) appeared to have snatched the momentum out of the air, scoring on its opening drive of the second half on an 87-yard touchdown reception from sophomore Brian Bonner.
Bonner finished his postseason debut with well over 150 yards and added two touchdowns for the Vikes.
However, after a bumpy second quarter, the Friars surged past the Vikings in the third quarter.
Hannan lit up the night in his playoff debut, but other Friars helped the team pull away from Valencia in the second half.
Carr ran in his first score of the day to start the Friars’ fun. Servite safety Beau Jako picked off Valencia quarterback Jackson Askins and set up another score on the next play.
Friars receiver Quinn Rosenkranz threw on a trick play to Ethan Naudin for a huge TD. Rosenkranz then reeled in the two-point conversion from Hannan to put Servite up, 34-17.
Vikings coach Larry Muir knew the task ahead would be challenging coming into Friday’s playoff opener but saw his team go toe-to-toe with the Trinity League battle-tested Friars.
“We knew the challenge that was in front of us,” Muir said. “We knew we had to play Viking football and play really well because they’re a good football team. I give our kids all the credit in the world. Our kids battled and fought all the way. They’re truly champions in their own way. I’m proud of every single one of our guys.”
Carr was held in check for the majority of the game but would do the rest of the damage with 58- and 67-yard rushing touchdowns to ice the game. The Valencia front had its work cut out for them with Carr and the mobile Hannan. The Vikings’ front seven allowed two huge plays on the ground to start the game but held the Friar run game to little success for the remainder of the first three quarters.
“I don’t think the score was indicative of the game itself,” Muir said. “It’s one of those things but they’re a good football team so if you miss an A gap, they have guys that are gonna go. Our kids played hard.”
Valencia settled in after a slow start that saw the team slip into a quick 12-0 hole. The Vikings picked up some momentum on their third drive, despite numerous penalties, but still were without a score in the first quarter.
All Hannan needed was two passes and an open Aidan O’Callaghan to go up 12-0, as the two connected twice for touchdowns in the first quarter.
The Vikings defense came alive and nearly came up with a safety toward the end of the first quarter, which set up great field position for the team’s first score.
Askins hit Bonner for a 9-yard score to cut the early deficit to just five points.
Valencia’s defense again came through, forcing and recovering a fumble. The Viking secondary tightened up as well, with multiple players coming up with big pass deflections, including a pass breakup by Isaac Shin that prevented O’Callaghan’s would-be third score of the first half.
Askins took a big hit in the fourth quarter, leading to an early exit. Sophomore Brady Bretthauer entered and gave the Friars the same issues Askins was.
Bretthauer threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Bruner to cap off Askins’ long drive and put Valencia within 10 points early in the fourth quarter.
“Those two are an unbelievable quarterback combination,” Muir said. “Jackson, what he’s done all year long has been phenomenal. The type of player he is, and he’s been leading this team all this offense all year long. Brady he’s another special talent himself and we’ve just been blessed this year with unbelievable kids. I can’t say enough of who these kids are and how well they represented Valencia High School. I just love this team to death.”
The Vikings struggled to stop Carr toward the end of the game and fell victim to the Trinity League Friars.
Valencia will graduate numerous impactful and college football-bound seniors in: Askins, Jake Pikor, Reid Farrell, Tony Testa, Judah Plett and Luke Cruz.
“They’re just an unbelievable, special group of kids,” Muir said. “This senior class is just off the charts special. They’re there in the legacy of Valencia football, they are right there with any other class that’s been through here.”
“You hope that you’ve taught them things and that someday when they become young men and fathers and husbands, that they have great memories of this,” Muir said. “We hope they got the values out of high school football that you want them to get. That’s the essence of everything.”
Servite returns home to Cerritos College to host Long Beach Poly next Friday at 7 p.m.