An opening kickoff return for a touchdown set the tone for the Central Valley Christian football team.
And they were led by star running back Bryson Donelson.
Donelson opened the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to help the Cavaliers to a 53-38 victory over Simi Valley in a CIF Division 2-A South Regional game in Visalia on Saturday night.
The win sends CVC to the state championship game against Los Gatos at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at Pasadena City College.
“This is the third we’ve done this,” CVC coach Mason Hughes said. “It’s a great experience for these kids. Never won one and obviously that’s the goal, but no matter what, it’s a great experience. Our kids are excited to go on the bus and travel. Those are the little things in life. We know this is it and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Cavaliers’ offense was dominant from the onset of the game.
Donelson, a Fresno State commit, led the way for the offense, finishing the game with three rushing touchdowns, including a 74-yard touchdown in the first quarter that gave CVC a 13-7 lead before an extra point was made.
Other CVC players also contributed in the first half.
Gunnar Piepgrass had a 27-yard touchdown reception; Drew DeGroff had a 3-yard touchdown run; Trent Greidanus had a 23-yard rushing touchdown and Brent Kroeze completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Lewis for a 47-24 halftime lead.
“Our kids, offensively, were really dominating the whole first half,” Hughes said. “This team that we played tonight, they came back from so many points down. They have the heart of a champion, too. We were telling our guys, you can’t give in. They’ll come back and that’s what they did. Our defense gave up a lot of points, but made stops when needed.”
CVC’s lead was cut down to 47-38 in the fourth quarter with 8 minutes remaining.
Donelson made sure his team had a cushion when he scored on a 29-yard run.
All that was left is for the Cavaliers fans to celebrate a regional championship.
Even Hughes was ecstatic to hear a lot of fans making noise.
“Our crowd was awesome tonight,” he said. “There were a lot of events going on in Visalia. It was just our people and that was awesome because they were so loud.”
Big KO return sets tone for Mission Oak
Mission Oak took care of business, too.
It was a quick strike at that for the Hawks.
Kenny Jackson returned an 95-yards opening kickoff for a touchdown en route to a 29-14 victory over Rio Hondo Prep in a South Division 4-A regional game.
Ethan Rodriguez and Isaiah Rivera also scored touchdowns for the Hawks.
Mission Oak will next face Palma for the state championship at 3 p.m. Dec. 9 at Pasadena City.
Strathmore dominates Lincoln
Big plays propelled Strathmore to a 41-15 victory over Lincoln-San Francisco in a Division 7-A North regional game.
Roman Hernandez had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Spartans.
Jacob Poole also took over for the Spartans when he had three rushing touchdowns, the longest going for 60 yards for a 33-15 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Spartans will face Bell Gardens for the state championship at 11 a.m. Dec. 9 at Pasadena City.