PLEASANT VALLEY FOOTBALL SUPRISES EVERYONE.....
BY: Mike Baca
Six weeks ago it wasn't even a contest. The Chico High Panthers Football team dominated the line of scrimmage, handed the ball to their all-everything running back Dion Coleman and dismantled Pleasant Valley in the Almond Bowl 35-0.
Saturday night that regular season loss turned into a footnote when telling the story of the 2023 football season.
Pleasant Valley grinded their way to a 28-19 win over Chico using a punishing running game, creative play-calling and bend-but-don't-break defense to capture another section title.
The turn-around from October 13th is astonishing when you consider the chasm that we witnessed in the first installment of the Almond Bowl. Coleman rushed for 256 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Viking defense appeared to be completely overwhelmed.
While the Vikings didn't completely shut down Coleman on Saturday, they minimized the damage. He did score on a long touchdown run and had a receiving score. Instead of being a stake through the heart of the Vikings, he was, instead an irritant. It was something that the Vikings could overcome.
Something the Vikings didn't have in the Almond Bowl was a healthy Lucas Benson. The Junior running back separated his shoulder late in the 1st quarter of the Almond Bowl and PV was left looking for answers in their 35 point loss. Benson has been dominant in the Vikings two playoff wins scoring four touchdowns against Shasta and FOUR MORE in PV's win over Chico on Saturday. Benson had 24 carries for 104 yards and four scores.
Everyone knows PV Head Coach Mark Cooley is a great a coach. But this may have been his greatest sell job to one of his teams. To go from a running clock in a blow out loss at home against your rival to a playoff win six weeks later on their home field is stuff of legend.
All credit goes to Pleasant Valley and their program. The continual greatness of the Pleasant Valley football teams is a testament to their culture that Cooley has instilled and cultivated. PV preaches the "circle" how everyone on the team and at the school is connected. That connection was on full display in something that seemed improbable, but in retrospect, was inevitable.