HANFORD — Kingsburg backup quarterback Travis Hall paced his team with six total first-half touchdowns, Blake Spomer was electric on the ground with three scores and the entire team responded with a 69-20 victory over winless Hanford West.
After a tough Central Sequoia League loss the week before, the road win at the Neighbor Bowl was a welcome sight for a team trying to compete for a league title.
“Coming off two really tough games against CVC and then Dinuba, a loss last week, we just needed to get back into rhythm,” running back Spomer said. “Playing a team like this we took advantage of it, got some people in there, healed up this past week and it was a good win.”
With the win the Vikings (7-2, 3-1 CSL) remain in a three-way tie for first place in the CSL and will have a chance of at least a share of the league title with a win this week against Selma. It would be Kingsburg’s first league title since 2013 when they finished a perfect 4-0 in the CSL and were 10-2 overall before losing in the Division II semifinals.
“It’s just a testament to these guys,” Kingsburg coach David Wilson said. “These guys have set goals all along and this is my fourth year as a head football coach, this is my group. To have an opportunity to win league and to have an opportunity to cement their names in the CSL lore, so to speak, that’s exciting.”
Kingsburg also eclipsed their win total (both overall and league) from last season. Under Wilson’s guidance, the team has slowly improved each season.
From a 6-6 (1-3 CSL) campaign his first season in 2015 to an 8-4 improvement and 3-2 winning mark in league the next year. They dipped one game in 2017 when they were 7-5 (2-3 CSL), but the consistency has been incontestable. The Vikings have won a playoff game each of Wilson’s first three years, but have lost every time in the quarterfinals.
“That’s huge,” Spomer said. “It’s always good to get better each year for the program. We were expecting to be better from last year.”
Spomer got the scoring started for the Vikings when he took a short pass and turned it into a 52-yard touchdown to take a 7-6 lead in the first quarter. And they were off to the races.
After the defense held on third down, Cole Dias broke through the line to block the punt and Alfred Carpenter recovered it at the Huskies’ 23-yard line.
Hall dropped back to pass on a second-and-three, but saw daylight and ran up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown. The defense came through on the next series again with an interception by Josh Jackson. Kaden Tate caught a 9-yard fade in the end zone and the Vikings led 21-6 after the first quarter.
“We wanted to pick up our energy. We came out dull,” Hall said. “We needed to step it up because we kind of got surprised, but our leaders took over, we got the energy back, first time we got the ball we scored pretty early, got our momentum back.”
Hanford West (0-9, 0-4 CSL) drove to Kingsburg’s 7-yard line, but the defense came up big again. On second down, Micah Spomer intercepted the ball and took it back to the Vikings’ 29-yard line.
Hall then ran the ball 71 yards for a touchdown on the very next play for a 35-6 lead and ended the half with his fourth touchdown run of the first half. The Vikings scored three more times over the final five minutes, including a strip and 32-yard touchdown return by James Gasca. Kingsburg led 56-12 at halftime.
“[Hall’s] a starting quarterback and we’re fortunate to have two of them on our team,” Wilson said. “With Jett [Jackson] being out this week, he stepped in last week against Dinuba and then came right in and just picked up where he left off.”
The second half was played with a running clock. Hall and Blake Spomer both had season-highs in scoring. Hall combined for a season-high six touchdowns (two pass, four rush), while Spomer had eight total touchdowns entering the game.
Kingsburg has one game left on the schedule and it’s the biggest one of the year. A rivalry game against Selma. A win guarantees them a share of the league title. Anything else and their hopes for a title will be slim.
It won’t be easy as Kingsburg has lost to Selma all three seasons under Wilson. The Vikings came close in 2015 when they lost 35-33, but have been outscored 75-14 in their last two contests, including a 27-0 shutout last season. The last time the Vikings triumphed over the Bears was 2014 when they won 40-21.
Despite how good the Vikings are playing right now, Wilson said the team isn’t taking anything for granted in their final game.
“You've got to throw the record books out at Kingsburg-Selma games,” Wilson said. “That will be a dog fight from the beginning to end. It will definitely be something that will have to be earned. It’s not going to be something that’s just given to us.”