- 1 of 1 Photos | View More Photos
What a way to start a new high school football season.
The Sandy Valley Cardinals went back and forth all night with Indian Valley last Friday night before pulling out a thrilling 35-28 win over the Braves.
An 11-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Nelson Mozden to senior receiver Evan Keck in the overtime period was the difference in the game. The Cardinals defense stymied the Braves on its extra session possession.
"Our kids showed grit and toughness," said Cardinals head coach Zach Gardner. "We had a lot of adversity to deal with in terms of injury and illness on our team, but our kids kept fighting and made the plays they needed to get a huge win over a quality opponent."
Mozden picked up from where he left off from a stellar junior season. He threw for 219 yards and a touchdown and also ran for another. Darren Finn caught a 15-yard touchdown pass, and Bryce Kelly hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from the senior signal caller.
Junior tailback Dray Bracken scored from five yards out to open the Cardinals' scoring after the Braves got on the board first.
This was the second straight year the Cardinals defeated the Braves on opening night. Gardner said the opening matchup as well as the preseason scrimmages have helped his team prepare.
"When you play playoff caliber programs you get better," he said. "In terms of our size as a school, I will put our three scrimmages and our opener against anyone in the area as it gets us ready to compete. Win or lose in those situations, we are getting better as a program."
Tonight, the Cardinals are back on the road at Mapleton at 7 p.m. Sandy Valley routed the Mounties last year, 38-7.
"Our kids played with great attitude, effort and fight and left it all on the field against Indian Valley, but Friday against Mapleton we need to rectify our technique in some critical fundamentals," Gardner said. "Tackling and blocking being at the forefront."