Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 | 1:26 a.m.
In a town full of variety shows, Green Valley High staged the best one on Friday night.
Albert Lake and Kyler Chavez split the headlining duties. Between the two of them, they performed just about everything that could possibly be done on a football field.
“They’re a big part of what we do,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said. “I can’t say enough about them.”
The senior Chavez led the Gators in receiving, catching 13 passes for 144 yards, while also snatching two interceptions. The junior Lake led the team in rushing, running for 99 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while accounting for three takeaways on the other side of the ball.
They hardly ever came off the field much to the benefit of the Gators, which now stay on it for at least one more week. Green Valley advances to the Sunrise Region Championship Game, where it will face Liberty, for the first time in more than 10 years.
“I’ve played with most of the guys on this team since Pop Warner, so it means a lot,” Chavez said. “We’ve worked hard all of our lives together to get to this point.”
Chavez felt the Gators had pressure to perform defensively after they gave up 38 points to the Wildcats in the teams’ regular-season meeting. He took the initiative.
Two of Las Vegas’ first three possessions ended with one of quarterback Trevor Swenson’s passes in the hands of Chavez. Neither pick was easy, as both came off tipped passes.
They made things easy for the Green Valley offense, though, as it converted on short fields with two three-yard touchdown runs — one by Lake and one by junior Larry Norman.
“They turned the ball over a lot early,” Castro beamed. “They don’t usually do that and we were really fortunate to take advantage.”
Fortunate because it created a game of catch-up that Las Vegas could never win, not with the Green Valley offense producing at its typical clip.
Las Vegas senior running back Andrew Moreland had 117 yards on 12 carries before injuring his ankle, and senior receiver Aaron Zanin-Baks racked up 137 receiving yards on nine caches, but the Wildcats never trailed by less than double digits after the first quarter.
Green Valley alternated between Lake and Norman as its featured back on every possession. The former found the most success against the Wildcats, easily picking up numerous third-down conversions as well as breaking four runs for 13 yards or more.
Conor Perkins and Markus Varner proved nice targets for quarterback Christian Lopez — they had five receptions apiece for 87 and 71 yards, respectively — but it was Chavez whom he kept going back to in the short-passing game. One of an outrageous 31 penalties called back Chavez’s only touchdown of the night, but he got his moment late in the game instead.
Gliding across the middle, Chavez flattened a Wildcats defender like a deer running into semi-truck to enliven the crowd.
“I was happy to be the guy tonight but we like to spread the ball out evenly all over the place,” Chavez said. “And I like spreading the wealth.”
The Wildcats had finally appeared to creep back into the game early in the fourth quarter when Aaron Zanin-Banks caught a touchdown to make the score 37-27. Less than two minutes later, Elias Miller — who finished with 89 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries — returned a punt to the five-yard line.
But the Gators forced a fumble, their second-to-last turnover out of a total of seven on the night, that Lake scooped and took 90 yards for a touchdown. A crowd of teammates formed around him on the sidelines as he gasped for breath afterward.
“I was just exhausted,” Lake explained. “Playing both ways gets to you, but I pushed through and we won the game. That’s all we wanted.”
He’ll have to rest up because the Chavez and Lake Show is booked for another performance at a new venue. It’s headed to Liberty.
“They’re a great football team,” Castro said of the Patriots. “They’ve been in this situation before, but our guys will definitely be ready to go.”