Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 | 1:42 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer discuss Green Valley's victory over Coronado and glance over the rest of the Sunrise. Brewer declares it 'The Green Valley Podcast' before they wrap up.
Albert Lake is like a racecar without brakes, a missile without an abort. There’s no slowing him down.
The Green Valley senior running back appeared to set a pace he couldn’t possibly maintain early in Friday night’s game against Canyon Springs by picking up first downs on six of his initial eight carries. Except he never stopped.
Lake tallied 226 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries as the Gators prevailed 45-37 in what has become an annual shootout against the Pioneers.
“We got a great push, especially when we needed it,” Lake said. “I came out and ran hard.”
Green Valley has become renowned for its relentless spread passing attack in recent seasons. No one watching the Gators for the first time Friday night would have known.
They elected to run the ball on more than 70 percent of their plays, often launching behind tackles Carter Nielson and Joel Salakielu. In addition to one of the best games in Lake’s storied career, newer senior revelation Brenan Adams bruised his way to 89 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Senior quarterback Christian Lopez also added a rushing touchdown to his 154 passing yards.
“Our o-line did a great job and our backs did well for us,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said. “We wanted to run the ball well, and spread it around a little bit when we needed to throw it.”
Given the precision with which the Gators executed that game plan, it’s amazing they had to endure any suspense at all. But the game was chock full with as much drama as the drawn-out seconds between the time the announcer took to announce the homecoming king, which Lake was up for, and queen.
While Canyon Springs may not have boasted the individual standout performances, it ran the ball quite well in its own right. Senior Jerrod Blackwell had 13 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Zaviontay Stevenson added 13 carries for 57 yards as he eased his way back onto the field after suffering an ankle injury against Liberty. Stevenson compiled a highlight when he converted back-to-back third-and-long conversions in the final drive of the first half by carrying multiple Green Valley defenders on his back.
The perseverance set up a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior Kujaun Casey from Bradley Alexander and tied the score at 17-17 going to halftime.
“That wasn’t us in the first half,” Green Valley senior receiver and defensive back Dakota Prussia said. “We went in, talked it over a bit and realized that was not how we play, so we came out and took care of business.”
Green Valley senior cornerback Jacob Rivero intercepted a pass on one of the first plays after halftime. A minute-and-a-half later, Prussia came back to make a tough catch on an underthrown ball in the end zone for a 17-yard score.
Another touchdown, a one-yard run by Lake, on Green Valley’s only other drive of the third quarter made the score 31-17. But Canyon Springs responded when Jalel Rodgers had his second one-yard touchdown of the game.
The Pioneers had a golden opportunity to assume control when penalties on the ensuing possession pushed the Gators to a third-and-20 from their own 38-yard line. Prussia rescued Green Valley from the vulnerable situation by taking a Lopez pass 60 yards to the two-yard line before Lake scored on the next play.
“That was a big play for us,” Castro said of Prussia’s catch, which was the game’s longest gain. “We needed a play, and we leaned on a senior who had been working hard.”
Green Valley had to survive a few more scary situations in the fourth quarter before bagging the victory. Canyon Springs got the ball at its own 20-yard line with six minutes to go trailing by a touchdown, but had to punt when Green Valley sophomore linebacker Brock Hershberger came down with his second sack of the night.
Lake ran 35 yards for a touchdown on the first play, but Canyon Springs answered just as fast with Casey, the game’s leading receiver with six receptions for 97 yards, catching a 30-yard pass for his second touchdown.
The Gators recovered an onside kick with 2:30 to go, and just needed to run out the clock when another mishap struck. A massive hit from Canyon Springs senior Kyle Stuart jarred the ball out of Lake’s hands, and the Pioneers’ Christian Minor recovered.
“That was my first high school fumble,” Lake said. “It did not feel good at all, but I had faith in our defense and we shut them down in the end.”
Canyon Springs failed to pick up as much as a first down. The Gators’ emergency resistance proved the perfect match to Lake’s motor.