Nember 6, 2000
Harding returns the Valley Cup to Cedarcrest
by Doug Sage
What a wild ride! The Cedarcrest Red Wolves (4-5) closed out the 2000 season with an impressive 7-0 victory over the Mount Si Wildcats (5-4) to retain the Valley Cup for another year.
Cedarcrest has won the Valley Cup in three of the past four years since joining Kingco 3A and renewing the age-old rivalry. This one was a tremendous defensive struggle where neither team could get their offenses going and the game hinged on special teams and a 4th quarter punt return of 65 yards for a touchdown by sophomore Tommy Harding for the only points of the evening.
Coach Art Kuehn, who was all smiles after the game, said, "Our defense stepped up every time, they did a great job getting a shutout that was the first one of the year, they played a great, great game.
"I love this game, and Coach Charlie Kinnune of Mount Si is a friend of mine and he hates losing this game and I love winning it. Our kids deserve great applause; I just hope we can come back next year and do it again."
Cedarcrest started the game by dusting off several pages from deep in the playbook and tried what was called a diamond formation with three receivers and a running back forming a diamond far outside. The intent is to throw to the running back and have an escort of blockers to move the ball downfield.
An ingenious play, but it looks that it needs more work before it can be effective. It kept the Mount Si defense confused, but didn't produce many yards.
Cedarcrest's offense delivered only 133 yards on the night and 52 of them came early on a great run by Aaron O'Neal late in the first quarter which set up the Red Wolves deep in Wildcat territory. Cedarcrest couldn't capitalize and Tommy Felts' field goal was wide right in the first play of the second quarter.
This game was all about the special teams, specifically the punt returns by Tommy Harding (6 returns, 87 yards) and the punting of Nate McLallin (6 punts, 39.7 av.). At critical points in the game, whenever the Red Wolves needed to change the field position, McLallin came through.
Harding said that all he asked for from the return team was "just give me one block."
Harding stepped up and took the short punt from his own 35, taking it straight up the middle, then he broke it to the outside as the crowd went crazy. He crossed the goal line and raised his arms in triumph as the Red Wolves were victorious for the 4th time this season.
Also important about this game was the senior class. What a wonderful group to work with and a terrific team to see be successful.
QB Nick Rich was 8-14 for 41 yards. Darren Carrido contributed 28 yards rushing and 14 more through the air. McLallin and Ben Frey were instrumental in the passing game. Frey was huge on the extra point that made it 7-0.
WR Warick Holfield and Matt Geiger saw lots of action. On the defensive side, LB Jed Dern was in the backfield all night with help from his posse: Steve Polejewski, Colin Guthrie, Coy Chittenden and Jesse Thompson. Also standouts on defense were Jesse Reed and Tyson Soptich.
This year's team would not have been nearly as successful without the terrific play of the offensive line.
Leading the way was C Bobby Znak flanked by Guthrie, Polejewski and Coe. This years senior class was deep and talented, but the real heroís are the unsung seniors that
practiced hard every day, and made the team successful This group didnít get
a lot of press, but the team would go nowhere without the likes of Ben
Schlechty, Brandon Harvold and Justin Harrold.
Starting during 2 a day practices back in August everyoneís goal is the
playoffs. Itís unfortunate that this team didnít make it that far, but with
.500 season, a new stadium and a new attitude, this program is going places,
and the place they are going is up. Several seniors had opportunities to
comment on what it means to win the Valley Cup. Senior Co-Captain Darren
Carrido said "it was a great deal to come out and win it at home, at
Cedarcrest, weíve never won it at home". Nick Rich said "our offense was
struggling all night, but the defense really stepped up. A big interception
by Matt Geiger late in the game iced it". Geiger said " we just came to play
tonight, Man that interception felt good!" Coe said "what a defensive battle
tonight!. Jed Dern speaking on his last game as a senior said "I thought it
was the best way anyone could want to go out, winning the Valley Cup,
probably the last win on Howard Miller Filed, a good way to cap off this
The common thread from all those who spoke was that it was a team effort.
Thatís what sports at this level is all about. Those that play, those that
coach and those that watch are all looking for memories that will last a
lifetime. This team has accomplished that goal. Go Redwolves, and on to