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DAWG FIGHT!: Sutter beats West Valley in double OT to claim section title
Huskies win 38-31, now seek bowl berth
Trent Little just expects his teammate Colton Minton to make plays like the one he made on Saturday night — he's been playing alongside him since their first year of youth football with the Jr. Huskies.
Yet even Little didn't have the words to describe the final play at Wayne Gadberry Field.
Facing first-and-goal from the 20-yard line and trailing Sutter 38-31 in double overtime, West Valley needed to find the end zone to force a third extra period.
Eagles quarterback Dalton Tracy tried to throw a quick slant, a play that went for a 34-yard score earlier in the game, but this time found the hands of Minton.
Minton's description of the play: "Fall, get on the ground and end this thing."
The senior safety did just that and delivered Sutter its first Northern Section Division II championship since 2008 as the Huskies held on for the 38-31 win that became an instant classic.
As Minton dove to the ground, the Sutter sideline erupted in celebration, and minutes later, the section championship trophy was presented to an emotional Ryan Reynolds by CIF Northern Section Commissioner Elizabeth Kyle.
The section banner is the Huskies' first under Reynolds since he took over for the legendary Scott Turner in 2009. Sutter has been to the title game in three of Reynolds' four seasons as head coach, including last year's tough loss to Orland.
"It hasn't set in yet," Reynolds said. "I had big shoes to fill when I took over the program, and we were knocking on the door and just coming up short ... it's just the most amazing feeling in the world."
The Huskies are the first team in school history to go 13-0, and their season may not be over yet.
The CIF section commissioners will meet on Dec. 2 to decide which teams will play in the Northern California Regional Championship.
Sutter looks to be a prime candidate in the Division III field where the Huskies would likely face the winner of the North Coast Section Division III championship between Marin Catholic and El Cerrito. Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV program Escalon could also be in the mix if it beats Central Catholic next week.
"I don't see us not getting in," Reynolds said. "If we don't, it's going to be a travesty ... we did everything we could and I hope we're rewarded for that."
It took every ounce of effort for the No. 1-seeded Huskies to come away with the section crown on Saturday.
No. 3 West Valley trailed 24-21 with less than a minute remaining in regulation when J.J. Waterman nailed a 44-yard field goal to send it to overtime.
In the first OT period, West Valley went ahead 31-24 on Austin Clark's 2-yard burst. Sutter responded on Nathan Ahlers' 10-yard sweep for the score.
Sutter opened the second overtime by moving backward on its first two plays. On second-and-goal from the 19-yard line, Little threw a perfect strike to Austin Webster to take the 38-31 lead.
Minton's interception on West Valley's ensuing possession clinched the victory and sent his coach into euphoria.
"I just broke down emotionally," Reynolds said. "My mind was spinning. We were praying for the defense to make a big play ... it was like the weight of the world coming off our shoulders."
Sutter got on the board on its first possession of the game with Ahlers' 44-yard touchdown run.
The two teams exchanged punts for the next 10 minutes before Tracy hooked up with Dakota Carter for a 34-yard touchdown pass.
The Huskies answered on their ensuing possession as Little made a beautiful throw to hit Hayden Heilman in stride for a 47-yard score. Little rolled out to his right and Heilman made an adjustment to haul in the pass.
West Valley tied it up at 14-14 on its first play from scrimmage in the second half when Tyler Bennett sprinted 70 yards on a misdirection play.
Sutter went back on top 17-14 on Erika Linch's 27-yard field goal, but West Valley picked up its first lead of the game on Brady Casselman's 51-yard score on a fullback dive play.
Little and the Huskies' offense put together a gutsy drive on the ensuing possession, marching 73 yards to paydirt. Little scored on a keeper from 26 yards out.
That 24-21 lead held until the Waterman field goal tied things up.
Little finished 10 for 17 with 173 yards through the air and two touchdown passes. He also rushed for 91 yards and a score.
"We've got a great group of guys and we've worked so hard ... we wanted this so bad and it showed," Little said. "Our whole lives we talked about this and how we wanted one."
Now, they have it, and maybe, even more.
Defensive coordinator Matt Schamanski spent a little time on Saturday afternoon watching the North Coast Section semifinal between Marin Catholic and Cardinal Newman.
He wasn't looking ahead, he wanted to be prepared — just in case.
"They stepped up when they needed to," Schamanski said. "I feel so happy for these kids. They've been working for this since they were 7, 8 years old.
"It's a dream come true for them."