E.A. Sports Today

Culture change

Pleasant Valley, White Plains seeking to become more physical after playing a tight game in Spring Jam

White Plains quarterback Ryan Bannister tries to wriggle free from a Pleasant Valley tackler. On the cover, the PV defense wraps up Pat Harris (19). (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Pleasant Valley and White Plains met every season for 34 years until last year. The rivalry was renewed Friday night in the Calhoun County Spring Jamboree at Jacksonville State.

Pleasant Valley scored two early touchdowns on long runs and then hung on for dear life to edge the Wildcats 13-12 in a three-quarter varsity game at JSU Stadium.

The JV teams played the fourth quarter with White Plains scoring a touchdown and two-point conversion with 23 seconds left to give it an overall 20-13 victory. The late touchdown lifted the spirits of the Wildcats coach Chris White.

“This was good for us,” he said. “Our kids want to win and they are tired of the losing reputation.”

Both teams are fighting to dig their way out of a history of losing seasons with coaches in their third year at their respective schools. The Raiders have had losing seasons in 19 of their last 21 years, while White Plains has had losing seasons in 21 of the last 22.

Both teams have made progress, but the steps have been small as they’re playing in the toughest 3A and 4A regions in the state. However, Friday night you could see the improvement in both over last year.

Pleasant Valley’s Colton East took the first snap of the game around left end for a 65-yard touchdown run. Matisse Miller kicked the extra point, the only one made on the night and would prove to be the difference in the varsity game.

A few plays later Reagan King dashed 68 yards to give PV a 13-0 lead and at the time it looked like it was going to be all Raiders.

But the White Plains defense decided that was enough and only allowed 52 yards the rest of the game after giving up 142 on the first four plays.

The Wildcats offensive line began to take control and chopped the lead to 13-6 in the second quarter on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Ryan Bannister. In the drive, Bannister threw two key passes to Austin Bussey totaling 52 yards.

The Raiders responded with a late second quarter drive to the one inch line, where White Plains came up with a fumble recovery to keep the score 13-6 at the half.

The Wildcats dominated the third quarter with a long drive and cut the lead to 13-12 with 5:12 left. The try for two was no good as the Raiders caved in the left side of the line to knock Pat Harris down short of the goal line.

When the JVs took the field, Ethan Bozarth scored on a 13-yard in the final minute and then ran for the conversion to give the Wildcats the most points on the night.

“We have been working hard in the weight room to get stronger, but we came out soft and I think we finally decided that we could play physical football and we just played very well from that point on,” White said. “We have to change our culture and it starts with being a physical football team and being able to look into the other kids’ eyes at school on Monday morning.”

East led the Raiders with 87 yards rushing, while King picked up 62 yards rushing. Harris had 11 carries for 70 yards. Bannister fared well throwing the football, completing 8 of 14 passes for 94 yards with one interception.

“We played well in the first quarter, but had a costly turnover in the red zone that hurt us,” PV coach Jonathan Nix said. ”I think fatigue got to us as things went on. You just have to play through pain and adversity and get tough. I was proud of our effort.

“We have to get in better condition during the summer. We have to be able to play for four quarters. We have to make a choice if we want to be physical or not. I want kids that want to be out there on both sides of the ball.”

White Plains 20, Pleasant Valley 13
Pleasant Valley 13 0 0 0 — 13
White Plains 6 0 6 8 — 20

Varsity Scoring
PV – Colton East 65 run (Matisse Miller kick)
PV – Reagan King 68 yard run (kick failed)
WP – Ryan Bannister 1 run (kick failed)
WP – Ryan Bannister 1 run (kick failed)

Junior Varsity Scoring (fourth quarter)
WP – Ethan Bozarth 13 run (Ethan Bozart run)

White Plains receiver Austin Bussey is hoping for a soft place to lane as Pleasant Valley defenders Reagan King (10), Nic Smith (14) and Cameron Green (1) close on his position. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the game, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com and click on the football file

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