VALE STILL PLAYS LIKE NO. 1

October 19, 2001 11:00 pm
FIRST DOWN: La Grandes Aaron Thomas (4) made the most of his lone running play Friday by going 11 yards in the second quarter for a first down.  (The Observer/C.J. GISH).
FIRST DOWN: La Grandes Aaron Thomas (4) made the most of his lone running play Friday by going 11 yards in the second quarter for a first down. (The Observer/C.J. GISH).

By C.J. Gish

Observer Staff Writer

Vale had plenty of emotions to unleash Friday when it came to La Grande.

The top-ranked team in the Class 3A football ranks was forced to forfeit five games coming into the contest, including four in Greater Oregon League play, because of a player violation.

The result was a Vikings 60-19 win at Community Stadium.

Theyre a good team, La Grande coach Randy Waite said. We battled for a while, but we wore down. Were a little smaller and less physical.

Vale used a balanced game to break away from the Tigers. Bobby Lamb passed for all 185 of his yards in the first half, including two touchdown strikes.

In the second half, it was the Cody Anthony show as the Vikings senior tailback eluded La Grande for 153 of his game-high 193 yards. Lamb added 61 yards rushing in the second half.

Im really proud of these kids, Vale coach Brice Gundlach said. You cant imagine the hell of this past week. The start of each successive day was worse. Finally, today we relaxed and knew where we stood. We wanted to continue on with our pride and character.

Vale used big pass plays, including touchdown passes of 38 yards to Kyle Wilson and 36 to Kenny Roner, to take a 12-0 first-quarter lead.

Aaron Thomass 27-yard scoring catch from Kyle Bomberger, plus Jacob Simonis extra-point kick, cut the lead to 12-7 in the second quarter and capped a 77-yard La Grande drive.

Vale would score twice more on an Anthony 2-yard plunge and a Jed Coaps 32-yard blocked punt return to go ahead 25-7 before Adam Kleck grabbed a short Bomberger pass and ran 16 yards for a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the half.

La Grande seized the momentum on the first Vale offensive play of the third quarter when Tyler Reddington intercepted a Lamb pass. But the Tiger offense stalled and Vale marched down the field, ending with an Anthony option pass to a wide-open Roner for a 26-yard score.

Vale scored twice more when Lamb went 13 yards on a quarterback keeper and Anthony added a 13-yard touchdown for a 46-13 lead.

Bomberger, who went 17-of-35 for 155 yards passing, was intercepted twice in the third quarter.

Casey Fenwick, who was limited to 24 yards rushing on 14 carries, gave La Grande its last score on a 4-yard run with five minutes left in the contest.

La Grande was held to 92 yards rushing after Fenwick posted a 207-yard game at Burns last week.

They stopped the run, Waite said. We can throw the ball, and we threw well at times, but like I always say, youve got to run the ball or you wont be successful. That was the case tonight.

La Grande, which has an outside shot at the playoffs, travels to Ontario Friday.

Vale, ranked first in the 3A poll since the season-opener and winner of its first six games, forfeited games two through six Friday due to playing a player more than the allotted six quarters of junior varsity and varsity in a week.

The Vikings had to forfeit wins over Weiser, Idaho, in non-conference play, and GOL wins against Burns, Baker, Ontario and McLoughlin.

Vale admitted to using a player too much between the varsity and JV teams. Under OSAA rules, players in Class 3A cannot play more than six quarters per week combined at the JV and varsity level.

We made a mistake and honestly misinterpreted the rule, Gundlach said. We did nothing to gain a competitive advantage. If (the Oregon School Activities Association) is going to end our season because we played a 5-foot, 2-inch, 120-pound sophomore who played on the kickoff return team, then thats too bad. These kids shouldnt have to suffer on a coaching mistake.

Vale had advanced to the state semifinals three straight years entering this season, losing to Central in 1998, to Burns in 99 and to Pleasant Hill last season.

Vale 12 13 14 21 60

La Grande 0 13 0 6 19

V Kyle Wilson 38 pass from Bobby Lamb (kick failed)

V Kenny Roner 36 pass from Lamb (kick failed)

LG Aaron Thomas 27 pass from Kyle Bomberger (Jacob Simonis kick)

V Cody Anthony 2 run (conversion failed)

V Jed Coaps 32 punt block return (Kip Nelson kick)

LG Adam KIeck 16 pass from Bomberger (pass failed)

V Roner 26 pass from Anthony (Josh Robinson kick)

V Lamb 13 run (Robinson kick)

V Anthony 13 run (Robinson kick)

LG Casey Fenwick 4 run (pass failed)

V Lamb 37 run (Robinson kick)

V Anthony 2 run (Robinson kick)

Individual statistics

RUSHING Vale, Anthony 27-193, Lamb 7-61, Casstleberry 1-7, Hicks 1-(minus 10). La Grande, Bomberger 7-35, Fenwick 14-24, Simons 4-18, Myer 1-12, Thomas 1-11, Wagner 2-(minus 8).

PASSING Vale, Lamb 6-17-2-185, Hicks 1-2-0-7, Anthony 1-1-0-26. La Grande, Bomberger 17-35-2-155, Wagner 1-2-0-7.

RECEIVING Vale, Roner 9-94, Sappe 2-28, Anthony 1-39, Wilson 1-38, Laeger 1-18. La Grande, Fenwick 7-53, Kleck 4-36, Moulton 4-29, Stebbins 2-17, Thomas 1-27.