The message was simple Friday night: The River Valley High football team needed to win to stay on pace for a trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
The Falcons not only took care of business, they looked mighty impressive doing so, blowing out Woodcreek of Roseville, 50-0 on senior night to stay alive for the postseason.
River Valley improved to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Capital Valley Conference with a trip to Antelope next week on the schedule to close out the regular season.
Co-head coach Brennan McFadden called next week’s game a must-win.
“Whoever wins that game probably has a good opportunity to go to the playoffs,” McFadden said. “We’re focused on going out and giving us the best opportunity to be successful against Antelope.”
River Valley jumped all over Woodcreek (2-7, 1-4 CVC) minutes into the opening quarter. Following a 55-yard opening scoring drive, in which senior Nathan Nava chewed up 39 yards en route to a short-yardage score, River Valley came right back with a game-changer on defense. After a Woodcreek 3-and-out, River Valley’s Muhammed Aziz forced a fumble on the punt attempt for Roman Procunier-Jimenez to run it in on a 12-yard scoop-and-score, giving the Falcons a 13-0 lead within the opening 4 minutes of the game.
“Football is a game of momentum and we hit them in the mouth first,” said McFadden, who leads alongside his fellow head coach Dave Humphers. “I’m proud of my boys.”
Up 19-0 after 1 quarter, River Valley continued to push in the second with a pair of long drives, capped by short-yardage scores from Nava and Dalton Whiteley, extending the lead to 40-0.
Whiteley and Nava each recorded two rushing touchdowns, while Ryan Moore added a score, as River Valley used a host of running backs and misdirection plays all night in the backfield.
“(Misdirection) was working well tonight,” McFadden said. “That’s all on our O-line, not just our backs. Our backs were faking very well, but our offensive line was blocking well.”
Through the air, sophomore George Baker hauled in a 27-yard touchdown from quarterback Ian Harvey on a wheel route in the second quarter. Harvey was 3-of-8 passing for 69 yards in his final regular-season home game.
Defensively, River Valley posted its first shutout, helped in part by three first-half turnovers, which Aziz had his hand in on all three The senior defensive back recovered two fumbles and made the first-quarter strip on the punt to lead the defense.
The attention now turns to Antelope on the road where the winner likely squeaks into the 12-team division III playoffs.