Whether you were there in person or watching from a Periscope account, the Pleasant Valley Viking football team provided one of the great sports thrills the North State has ever seen.
Trailing by ten late in the 3rd quarter and then seemingly down for the count with just over two minutes to go and trailing by eight, the Vikings rallied with the guts and guile their head coach has been telling them they had to have since they stepped on Pleasant Valley High campus four years ago.
When Mark Cooley took the helm of Viking Football his resume was already impressive. Numerous stand-out seasons at Hamilton High and a reputation as a no non-sense leader of young men. It didn’t take long to see the change in the program. Cooley emphasized togetherness, bond, community and brotherhood. The change didn’t come without some challenges, but the long-term plan was in place and as many in the North State Football community could see, the Vikings were coming.
So as Enterprise High grabbed the headlines and won a couple of North Section titles, there was a belief that the youthful Vikings were on their way. This was the year it was all supposed to come together
As Viking faithful saw St. Anthony’s take an interception to the house for a 42-34 lead with just over two minutes to go, many thought this was the beginning of the end, but not the Vikings.
A 4th and 10 conversion and then a tremendous strike with quarterback Kyle Lindquist hitting Trevor Owens cutting the deficit to two. More heroics were to come when Lindquist being flushed out of the pocket on the two-point try had to throw off his back foot and hit ole’ reliable Peyton Williams in the back of the end zone as Williams dove to convert the tying two-point try.
As the two teams headed to overtime, one thing was clear for Head Coach Cooley, “if they scored and kicked the extra point we were going to go for two, no doubt.” After the Saints of St. Anthony scored that TD on a 10-yard run and predictably kicked the extra point, the stage had been set.
Pleasant Valley’s Lindquist would find Owens again for the touchdown in overtime and that is when PV went for two. The play was designed to hit Quaine Rhoades but he was covered. Lindquist then checked down to his second and third options and he had them both open. “I really had my choice. They were both so wide open. I was nervous but I just stuck with it and hit Siebert,” said Lindquist.
Siebert would say that as the ball sailed toward him, “I knew I better catch it.” Cooley said the throw hung in the air for what seemed like, “forever.” Even UNLV-verbal commit and star offensive lineman Ashton Morgan would say, “that ball was in the air forever.” Siebert would grab it, sending Viking faithful in Long Beach and 500 miles north into a frenzy.
I would interrupt a tight Sonoma State and Chico State rivalry basketball game on AM-1290 KPAY to calmly exclaim, “the Pleasant Valley Vikings are State Champions.” Fans could be seen throughout Acker Gym high-fiving and slapping hands in celebratory fashion.
This amazing group that would finish off one of the more improbable four year runs in North State high school football history. From their freshman year to Saturday’s incredible win the Vikings lost ONE GAME against North Section opponents. That one game came earlier this year against Paradise High. Ironically it came on the final play of the game on a two-point conversion. This senior group lost one game against their North Section peers in four years. We may never see the likes of this again.
Under the tutelage of Mark Cooley the Pleasant Valley Football program has become much more than Aaron Rodgers alma mater. He has created an atmosphere where players are absolutely committed to their school and their bond. To find someone who can take a bunch of young men and mold them into a group that plays passionately for one another is special. It doesn’t happen every day. Many programs will give it lip service, but with the Vikings and their constant mantra of togetherness, you truly believe it.
Not everyone can be as talented as the Vikings, but when you create an atmosphere that embraces positivity, caring and brotherhood, don’t be surprised when a group of young men do something special. A lot of things can be achieved when you believe and play for the guy on your left and to your right.