East Xtra: Arch-rivals Burrell, Valley play in conference showdown
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Around Lower Burrell and New Kensington, it is often said there is nothing bigger than the Burrell-Valley rivalry.
Well this year on the football field, the rivalry just got bigger.
Valley has moved down from Class AAA to Class AA this year and joins Burrell in the Allegheny Conference.
Unlike the previous two seasons when Burrell and Valley met, Friday night's game will be a conference contest. And unlike the previous two seasons when Burrell and Valley met, Valley will not be in the midst of a winless season.
The Vikings snapped a 22-game losing streak on Friday night with a 14-7 win against Deer Lakes.
Meanwhile, Burrell pounded Brownsville Area, 41-7, in a non-conference matchup.
So this Friday night when Valley (1-0, 1-0) visits Burrell (1-0, 0-0), the Vikings will not be trying to break a long losing streak for once, but rather playing for a share of first place.
"It is pretty big for us to break the streak," Valley's first-year head coach Chad Walsh said. "It is a big boost for us to win ... period, but it is always nice to start with a conference win. It gives us a step up."
The opening half of the season-opener felt like so many other halves of football the Vikings have been through the past two seasons.
Valley went to the locker room trailing Deer Lakes, 7-0, at halftime.
"We weren't sure how they were going to react once they got done," Walsh said. "Were they going to be able to bounce back? We stayed focused. They knew we had chances we were just hurting ourselves. We came out regrouped and made some adjustments."
Junior quarterback Ty Matthews rushed for one touchdown and threw another one to senior wide receiver Chaz Cheatham with a little more than a minute to play to help Valley rally from behind.
"The team was feeling pretty good [Friday] night," Walsh said of the postgame scene. "There were a lot of emotions, they were pretty happy and they were still pretty happy [Saturday] morning."
Saturday morning is when Valley got together to watch Burrell on video. Walsh is in his first season as head coach at Valley but he is well versed in the Burrell-Valley rivalry.
He was an assistant at Valley from 2007 to 2010 before leaving to become an assistant at Kiski Area last season.
"It is a pretty big game," Walsh said of the series. "It is a big rivalry and this year it means a little more. It is always a tough game."
The Buccaneers edged Valley, 23-16, last season and blasted the Vikings, 45-13, in 2010.
"They have always had a good running back," Walsh said. "They can pound it on the ground and their quarterback is smart, he knows where to go with the football. It is a typical Burrell team."
That "good running back" Walsh was referring to is senior Cole Bush. On Friday night Bush rushed for 230 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-7 win against Brownsville. Quarterback James Liput also completed 5 of 11 passes for 102 yards.
Valley has not defeated Burrell since 2008 when it knocked off the Buccaneers, 26-7, in the regular-season finale.
That was also the last year Valley reached the postseason.
If the Vikings want to reach the postseason, they will likely need to get a victory against Burrell and if they want to get a win versus Burrell they will likely need to contain Bush.
"We have to control Cole Bush," Walsh said. "If we can limit what he can do, we might have a pretty good chance. Offensively, we want to try and establish the run and pick up our passing game a little bit."
Vikings at Bucs
• Game: Valley at Burrell.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
• Where: Burrell Stadium.
• Skinny: Valley ended a 22-game losing streak last week and plays its neighboring rival in an Allegheny Conference game. The winner will grab a share of the conference lead.
First Published September 6, 2012 12:00 am