GERMANTOWN — It’s no secret Valley View has caused a lot of disappointment and heartache for Eaton’s football team and fans over the years.
That scenario was playing out again last Friday, Oct. 15, as the two football powers met in Germantown with a Southwestern Buckeye League West Division title on the line.
Eaton needed a win to secure an outright league title, while Valley View needed a win to force a tie heading into the final week of the season.
And for more than 3.5 quarters it looked as if the Spartans were going to cause more heartache, holding a 7-0 lead late late in the game.
But as has been the case this season for Eaton, the Eagles never wavered as they rallied to stun the hosts with 19 points in the final 2 minutes, 46 seconds for a 19-7 win to clinch a league title for the first time since the 2011 season.
The win also snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Spartans. The Eagles last win in the series was on Oct. 21, 2011.
Eaton, now 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the SWBL, earned the win despite facing adversity.
The Eagles lost starting quarterback Brock Ebright to an injury late in the first half and the Eagles were also penalized 10 times on the night, several coming in key situations. The Spartans were flagged just three times.
“In a weird way, I don’t want to say we plan for adversity, but we knew there would be some,” Eaton coach Brad Davis said. “We didn’t know it would be quite the magnitude it was tonight. Coming down here is never easy. So that was kind of the message all week was, it’s not going to be easy, they’re not going to give you anything. You’re gonna have to earn everything that we’re going to get. But that’s kind of been a lot of our games for us. We’ve been in just about every situation you could be in, so it wasn’t panic.”
Down 7-0, Eaton got the ball at their own 39-yard line with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter. An 11-play drive, with a mixture of runs and passes, took just over five minutes off the clock as backup quarterback Chris Atkins connected with Theo Winings for a nine-yard touchdown pass to make it a 7-6 game.
The celebration was short lived as the Spartans blocked the point after try to keep the lead.
On the Spartans next series, they fumbled the ball on the first play for a two-yard loss. On the next play, Valley View completed a pass for six-yards, but the receiver ran out of bounds, stopping the clock. On third down, the Spartans only picked up three yards and were forced to punt.
Eaton’s Josh Martin returned the punt 45 yards to the Valley View 25-yard line with 1:35 left.
After an incomplete pass, Atkins scrambled to the Spartan five-yard line, and on the very next play, senior Aiden Williams scored to put the Eagles up 12-7 with 44.9 seconds left. The two-point conversion failed.
That set the stage for Eaton’s defense, which has been dominant all season, having allowed just 21 points over the last five games.
After two completions moved the ball to near midfield, Christian Reyna made the play of night.
The senior linebacker intercepted a pass and raced 52 yards down the Valley View sideline for a touchdown with 17.2 seconds left to seal the game.
“Christian for us defensively does so much dirty work,” Davis said. “He has to play on the line of scrimmage at times. We’re asking him to cover deep routes at times. So a moment like that for him, capped it off, it couldn’t been any better.”
Atkins completed 9-of-14 passes for 64 yards and rushed seven times for 52 yards. Williams led the ground game with 72 yards on 19 carries.
Martin caught eight passes for 32 yards. Leslie Orr had four catches for 24 yards and Winings had three catches for 28 yards.
“I’m happy for the guys. I’m happy for the school. I’m happy for the community. Certainly happy for the coaching staff that’s been with us these last several years been. It’s been a rough go. It’s a championship. So, pretty happy,” Davis said. “Nobody we’d rather beat (to win the league).”
Eaton will look to complete its first unbeaten regular season since 2010 when it hosts 7-2 Monroe on Friday.
“Still got to finish the season. There’s still a Week 10. Monroe’s a good ball club,” Davis said. “We’re going to have our hands full with Monroe.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr