KINGSBURG - In a season that began with lofty expectations, the Vikings fall short of their goals.
Kingsburg’s perfect season officially ends with a 29-22 playoff loss to Central Valley Christian in the CIF Central Section Division III quarterfinals on Friday. The Vikings (10-1, 5-0 CSL) were the top seed while the Cavaliers (8-4, 3-2 CSL) were ranked No. 8 in the division.
“It’s a good group of guys and it’s real disappointing not to be able to finish the season like we wanted to,” Kingsburg head coach David Wilson said. “It was a great season, you’re ecstatic about going 10-0 and unfortunately in playoffs, there’s only one team that finishes with a win and unfortunately this year, it’s not going to be us. It definitely hurts.”
After Kingsburg had a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, CVC went on to score 16 unanswered points to build a 22-14 advantage in the third quarter. The Vikings were held scoreless in the second and third quarters.
In the first quarter, Travis Hall completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Josh Jackson and Micah Spomer returned an interception to the end zone.
When their offense needed it the most, the Vikings tied the game with one of their biggest plays of the night. Hall connected with Blake Spomer for a 39-yard touchdown inside the first minute of the fourth quarter. Kingsburg tied the game after Hall completed a pass to Micah Spomer for the two-point conversion.
On the next possession, CVC retook the lead at 29-22 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tyce Griswold to Logan Jacobi.
With a chance to tie the game, the Vikings were on the cusp of scoring, driving down the field to the Cavaliers' 20-yard line. On 3rd-and-15, Hall threw an interception to Dirk Nelson with 6:31 to play. CVC proceeded to close the game by running the ball nine-straight times on the final possession.
“You have to give CVC credit,” Wilson said. “I thought they had a really good game plan, putting us in a couple of tough spots. It’s always tough to play a team twice and they were ready to go.”
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In his final start, Hall completed 9-of-20 passes for 164 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His interception was the Vikings only turnover of the night. Kingsburg’s defense had three takeaways on three interceptions from Griswold.
The Vikings struggled to run the ball all night by being held to 81 yards on 26 total carries. Offensively, Kingsburg was outgained 424-245 yards.
The defense struggled to contain the Cavaliers' running game, allowing 272 yards with 151 of those yards coming from Griswold. Jacobi rushed for 115 yards on 26 carries against the Vikings defense.
“As a football coach, everything is a learning process,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have to learn from this one and make some adjustments moving forward because we got a lot of good football players coming back next year. Those same expectations are going to be there.”
Despite the disappointing end, Kingsburg won its first outright Central Sequoia League title and put together its first 10-win season since 2013. That year, the Vikings were 10-2 overall and 4-0 against CSL opponents. Kingsburg entered the playoffs at 10-0 for the first time since 2009.
Next season, Wilson expects have nine returning starters on defense on eight returners on offense. With the addition of players from this year’s junior varsity team that went 10-0, Wilson said the future of the program is “bright.” Wilson added praise to this year’s seniors, who he said “deserved” a better outcome.
Kingsburg should open the 2020 season as one of the favorites to win the Division III title with return of quarterback Jett Jackson (ACL injury), alongside Blake Spomer, Micah Spomer, Kaden Tate, Connor McFall, and Cal Muxlow.
“At Kingsburg, the expectations are always high,” Wilson said. “That’s one thing I’ve learned being the football coach here. We’re always striving to win that last game. We want to win the last one.”
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end and nobody wanted it to end the way it did and you just learn from it. You take it as a lesson. Hopefully it motivates us in the offseason to lift that extra weight, run those extra runs, and do what it takes to get to this point again next year and go out there and compete. That’s all we’re trying to teach these kids to do.”