Vanden High School football team have won first section crown since 1995 with triumph over Merced – The Vacaville Reporter

STOCKTON – After waiting 26 years for a Sac-Joaquin section crown, all the Vanden High School football team had to do was head east.

The Vikings traveled east to Stockton’s St. Mary’s High on Saturday afternoon to face Merced in the Division IV title game. Vanden also steered the championship competition towards wide receiver / defensive back Jamai East.

East caught three touchdowns from quarterback Tre Dimes and had two grueling interceptions – including a 24-yard pick-six early in the fourth quarter. The rest of his teammates did the rest is a convincing 49-21 win.

When East walked out of Vanden’s locker room, he was greeted with chants of “MVP! MVP! ”By the Vanden crowd.

“We just had to step up,” East said of what we talked about at halftime. “We had to play at our level.

The game was 21-21 at halftime, but the No. 2 seeded Vikings (11-2) outscored the No. 4 Bears (9-4) in the second half, both offensively and defensively.

Vanden High cornerback Robert Breed (7) sprints to the end zone on Saturday after intercepting a pass on Merced’s opening game in the first quarter of the Vikings section title win. (Joel Rosenbaum / The Reporter)

“(Merced) was having good plays in the first half, so we told our guys to keep pushing them, to keep playing hard,” said Vanden head coach Sean Murphy. “We haven’t made a ton of major adjustments. We made a few small adjustments, but it felt like if we kept playing hard things would go as we want and they did.

The victory was particularly satisfying for Murphy, who was a junior offensive lineman on the 1995 squad that beat Bear River in the 1995 championship.

“It was a lot more scary than it was as a player,” said Murphy. “It’s been a great trip for us since last spring, facing all kinds of adversities. We are very proud of our student-athletes.

Long before East’s second-half pick of six, Vanden started the game with an interception return for a touchdown as Robert Breed intercepted quarterback Seth Scheidt’s pass and sent it back to 33. yards in the end zone for the 7-0 lead.

After forcing a turnaround on the downs, Vanden ran for 94 yards on just seven yards, culminating with a Sean Davis 8-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 6:07 left in the first quarter. Dimes connected with the Brayden Chavez wide receiver on connections 18 and 35 on the player.

Chavez, a second-year receiver, had five catches for 102 yards. Merced was able to smother Vanden’s top receiver, Michael Belk, but the Bears couldn’t eliminate all of the Vikings’ wide receivers.

“I think (Merced) tried to put more people on Belk and it left receivers like Jamai and myself open and it helped a lot,” Chavez said.

The Bears cut the lead in half in their ensuing practice as Enoch Evans ran it to 34 yards. A bad shot on a punt on Vanden’s next practice saw Merced make another touchdown – this one, a 31-yard touchdown from Scheidt to Jack Collins who came in fourth and -20 early in the second. quarter.

The Vikings took a 21-14 lead with 5:47 left in the half when Dimes found East for a 55-yard touchdown. East made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch in front of his defenseman on the play.

Merced beat Vanden again on the fourth down with 2:05 left in the half when Scheidt again joined Collins for a 43-yard touchdown reception. The extra point tied him 21-21 and that’s how he would head to the locker room.

On Vanden’s second possession in the second half, the Vikings took the lead for good on an 8-yard touchdown at Dimes-to-East, completing a 67-yard drive and seven plays.

Meanwhile, the Vikings ‘defense blocked Scheidt and the Bears’ passing play. Vanden forced a punt and then scored again with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard touchdown at Dimes-to-East. Merced’s Chase Smith hampered East on the play, but the wide receiver shook him and still managed to catch him in the end zone.

Things got worse for the Bears on the first play of their next possession when East jumped in front of a catcher and ran 24 yards to the end zone to take the 42-21 lead. The Vikings scored their last touchdown with 9:07 left in the game on a 51-yard Dimes-to-Davis touchdown pass.

Dimes was 12 for 20 for 247 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

Scheidt finished with 197 passing yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Vanden caught him seven times behind the line of scrimmage and put more pressure on him in the second half as the appellant missed eight of nine passes at one point.

The championship win was also special as the team dedicated the season to fallen teammate Daniel Hughes, who was shot on April 4 and ultimately succumbed to his injuries. The players spoke about him while posing for the championship photo.

“We were playing for our brother Daniel,” said Chavez. “It kept us going all the time.”

Vanden is now eligible for a bowl game in Northern California to be played on December 3 or 4. The brackets are expected to be released on Sunday.

The score

Vanden 49, Merced 21

Next game: NorCal Bowl: TBD

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