KINGSBURG - With the offense struggling to find a rhythm for most of the night, the Vikings’ defense provided key stops with four takeaways to keep Kingsburg’s undefeated season alive.
In front of a packed home crowd, the Vikings (8-0, 3-0 CSL) came out on top 25-3 over the Dinuba Emperors (2-6, 0-3 CSL) in a Central Sequoia League game on Friday.
It’s the program’s first 8-0 start since 2009 and it was the third time this season that the Vikings didn’t allow a touchdown in a game. The other two times that they didn’t allow teams to find the endzone were in shutout victories over Kerman (45-0) and El Diamante (20-0). In three CSL games, Kingsburg’s defense has allowed 12.3 points per game.
“Not all of our wins have been pretty, but these guys persevere,” Vikings coach David Wilson said. “They’re winners and they know how to win ...they find ways to win.”
Despite the offense struggling, the Vikings scored on the ground twice after being set up in good field position with two takeaways from the defense. Blake Spomer rushed for a touchdown from 12 yards out while Cole Dias ran for a 2-yard score to put the Vikings up 12-3 at halftime. The extra point attempt were unsuccessful after both scores.
An interception and a fumble recovery were the two takeaways that set up the touchdown drives.
Spomer, who also plays defense, set up his offensive score in the first quarter by picking off Dinuba quarterback Josh Magana in the first quarter. Spomer had a pick-six on a 30-yard return, but his score was nullified by a penalty. After a 19-yard reception from Connor McFall put the Vikings in the red zone, Spomer scored his only touchdown of the night on the ensuing play.
Dias’ goal line touchdown was set up after the Vikings’ defense recovered a fumble on their own 45-yard line in the second quarter. Cal Muxlow was the player that forced the fumble.
“We had a great game plan going into this,” Dias, who also plays linebacker, said about the defense. “We knew that we just had to play more physical than them.”
With the score still at 12-6, Dinuba attempted a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter, but Muxlow made a momentum swinging play by blocking the kick, scooping up the ball at the 37, and returning it for a touchdown. Muxlow’s score extended the Vikings lead 19-3.
“I’m just excited for the team,” Muxlow said about his 37-yard touchdown return. “I think we needed to score some points, but we came out and I was wanting to block that field goal for them and I ran that back and I was just excited for everyone. I have to give a lot of credit to everyone. It’s been a heck of a season for defense.”
Wilson said Muxlow has been a great player for the defense all season.
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“Cal is one of those unsung guys on our team,” Wilson said. “He does a lot of dirty work and he doesn’t get tons and tons of recognition and to see him shine like that was awesome. We were celebrating as loud as we could on the sideline. We love that kind of stuff.”
After Spomer and Dias were bottled up all night, the Vikings’ rushing attack found its groove with the former picking up yards on multiple big runs in the fourth quarter. Kingsburg finished its final scoring drive on a 12-yard touchdown run from quarterback Travis Hall.
Spomer finished the night with 114 yards from scrimmage (89 rushing, 25 receiving) along with his lone touchdown. The junior gained his yards on the ground on 16 carries and recorded his receiving yards with three catches.
After throwing three touchdowns a week ago, Hall struggled through the air, completing 12-of-27 attempts for 98 yards and no touchdowns, but he didn’t throw an interception. The senior did make plays with his legs, running for 41 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.
On defense, Josh Jackson recorded all of the Vikings sacks by taking down Magana three times and Xsavier Jimenez making one of two interceptions for Kingsburg.
Now at 3-0 in CSL play, the 8-0 Vikings control their own destiny of winning a league title with two games remaining in the regular season. If the Vikings win their final two CSL games, It would be Kingsburg’s second consecutive title after sharing the CSL championship with Dinuba and Central Valley Christian last year.
After the Vikings host Hanford West this week, Kingsburg could potentially play for the league title against rival Selma (7-1, 3-0 CSL) at Reedley High School on Nov. 1. The Bears will take on CVC this Friday.
“Let’s take care of business on our side and hope they take care of business on their side and we’ll see,” Wilson said. “That’ll be a lot of fun.”
The Vikings will look to continue their perfect season when they host the Hanford West Huskies (1-7, 0-3 CSL) for senior night this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Huskies are looking for their first CSL win of the season after a 65-0 beatdown from CVC on Saturday. In last year’s meeting, Kingsburg had a dominating 69-20 victory over Hanford West.
“We have to take care of business and Hanford West is a formidable team,” Wilson said. “They’re not just going to lay down. We’re going to have to come out here, it’s going to be senior night, so that’s always exciting.”