The Swan Valley H.S. football team clinched the 2017 Tri Valley Conference Central Division Championship (also securing a home playoff game) with a 36-19 victory over Alma H.S. (6-2) on the campus of Swan Valley high school in Shields, MI tonight.
Alma had jumped out to an early lead when junior quarterback Drew Humm hit senior WR Brandon Huff on a 42 yard TD pass, while sophomore kicker Justin VanBlaricum sent the extra point through the uprights for a 7-0 Alma lead with 8:24 left in the opening quarter.
Swan Valley answered when junior QB Alex Fries scampered 47 yards for a TD, as junior Grant Nielsen kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7 with 2:34 left in the first quarter.
The Vikings would take its first lead of the game when senior RB Emmett Boehler broke loose for a 34-yard run down to the Alma 2-yard line, before breaking across the goal line with a 2-yard TD run, as Nielsen's kick was good for a 14-7 Swan Valley lead with 10:58 left in the second quarter.
Alma showed off its quick-strike offensive capabilities when Huff hit junior RB Brec Alward for a 68-yard passing TD, while VanBlaricum's kick sailed wide right, as Alma cut the Viking lead to 14-13 with 4:56 left in the half.
A high snap sailed over the Swan Valley punters' head, giving Alma great field position with the ball on the Viking 14-yard line with just under 2-minutes left in the half, before Alma managed to score on an 11-yard TD pass from Humm to Huff with 1:12 left in the first half, however, the 2-point try failed, sending the Panthers into halftime with a 19-14 lead.
Fries scored his second rushing TD on a keeper from the 1-yard line, while Boehler carried the 2-point conversion into the end zone for a 22-19 Swan Valley lead with 7:32 left in the third quarter.
The Vikings would go to work on the ground with an impressive ball-control drive in the third quarter, mostly on the back of its workhorse Boehler, who eventually plowed his way into the end zone from the 1-yard line for his second rushing TD of the night, as Nielsen's kick was good for a 29-19 Swan Valley lead with :29 seconds left in the third quarter.
Swan Valley junior Terryon Liddell hauled in a huge interception with just over 7-minutes left in the game, as the Vikings proceeded to feed Boehler, whose big chunks of yards kept eating up the clock, ultimately setting up a 9-yard TD pass from Fries to junior WR Drew Zolinski, as Nielsen's kick was good to cap off the scoring for a 36-19 Viking lead with 2:07 left in the game.
Boehler led the Swan Valley offense with 40 carries for 236 rushing yards, including 2 rushing TD's, while Fries added 6 carries for 58 rushing yards and 2 TD's as well for the Vikings.
Fries also completed 5 of 15 passes for 58 yards through the air; including his 9-yard TD pass to Zolinski, a 12-yard pass completion to junior Brock Leinberger, along with 3 completed passes to Liddell for another 35 yards.
Swan Valley junior RB Chase Mendoza would round out the Viking offense with 5 carries for 41 rushing yards.
Alward paced the Panthers with 18 carries for 60 yards on the ground, along with his 68-yard reception for a TD, while Humm finished 9 of 14 for 149 passing yards and 3 TD's. Huff had 5 catches for 62 yards and 2 TD's for the Panthers as well.
The Vikings will wrap up the regular season with a home game next Friday Oct. 20, with a visit from the Lansing area's St. Johns H.S. (5-3) who is coming off a 70-52 high-scoring victory over Battle Creek Central H.S. tonight.