By ERIC X. VICCARO
FESTUS — The Valle Catholic High School football team wrapped up an undefeated regular-season slate with a 52-13 victory over host St. Pius X last Friday at Father Dalton Field.
Now, comes the real season — the playoffs.
And Valle Catholic is preparing to write a few more chapters in its storied legacy as one of the Midwest’s true football powerhouses.
The Warriors will be aiming for their first-ever state title in Class 3.
“Class 3 is loaded,” said Valle Catholic head coach Judd Naeger. “We have some great teams ahead of us, but we feel like we are pretty good ourselves. We are going to have to be extremely disciplined and limit the mistakes.”
Naeger added the Warriors are excited for this new challenge. Valle Catholic is the No. 2 seed. Both schools enter the postseason at 9-0.
Valle Catholic performed well enough on both sides of the ball to wallop St. Pius X by 39 points. The Lancers scored a couple of excuse-me TD in the fourth quarter to pretty up the scoreboard.
“Any time you are not forced to punt once, it’s a good night for the offense, we were balanced and efficient the whole game,” Naeger said. “Coach (Nathan) Gegg does an amazing job on defense, and we thought we played physical limiting them to five yards in the first half.”
Without Bryce Giesler and Jayden Gegg playing on offense, the Warriors turned to Aiden Heberlie and Cory Stoll to provide the bulk of the offense.
Quarterback Chase Fallert went 11-of-21 passing for 225 yards and two TD. Cory Stoll rushed only four times, but for 111 yards and two TD. Heberlie had six receptions for 165 yards and two scores.
Alex Viox, in the second half, rushed for 87 yards on only three carries — and he nearly scored in the game’s final minute, marked down at the St. Pius 2-yard line after a long gainer.
Carson Tucker and Austin Burnett were the muscle on defense with nine and eight tackles, respectively, for the Warriors, limiting the Lancers to 124 yards.
Burnett also provided an interesting 20-yard punt return for a TD in the second quarter. The wind produced a line drive punt Burnett caught with his chest, running to the left, using the Warriors’ blocks to find the end zone.
This was the first game all season in which the wind was a noted factor, and Kolten Naeger misfired on several extra points wide left in the first quarter.
Fallert opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 3-yard TD run. Stoll then added a 58-yard TD run and Heberlie scored the next pair of TD on receptions covering 31 and 24 yards.