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Sandy Valley football finds early success on road

By WALTER DOERSCHUK The Press-News Published: September 9, 2016 10:00 AM

The Sandy Valley High School football team has found a way to win away from its home fans early this season.

The Cardinals won their second of back-to-back road games last week in a 24-13 victory at Mapleton.

For a second week in a row, Sandy Valley was trailing in the second half before coming back.

In week one, the Cardinals were down a touchdown to Indian Valley before pulling out an overtime win.

"Our kids have gutted out two tough games on the road," Sandy Valley head coach Zach Gardner said. "They have been very resilient in the face of adversity."

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It was a long trip to visit Mapleton, a school located in the Ashland area. The ride takes around an hour and 20 minutes to get there.

After the Mounties went into the halftime break with a 13-10 lead, Sandy Valley shut out Mapleton in the second half. In the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Nelson Mozden fired a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Darren Finn. Mozden later put the finishing touches with a 24-yard quarterback keeper to the end zone.

"We executed better in the second half," Gardner said. "We were pleased with how well our defense came out and played in the second half, and our offense put together two great drives to close out the ball game."

Sandy Valley will finally get back home tonight. It's the first time the Cardinals will take their field since a first round playoff win over East Palestine last November.

However, a challenge awaits them in Tusky Valley. A member of the PAC-7 Conference, the Trojans have scored 37 and 34 points respectively in their two wins over Waynedale and River View.

Sandy Valley routed Tusky Valley in week three of last year, 35-8.

Gardner recognized the week leading up to the game would be important for his team.

"We need to have tough physical practices this week to prepare for a tough, physical opponent," he said. "Factors beyond our control caused us to not have the week of practice we expect last week, and that definitely carried over to the game. This week, we need to up the intensity."

It should be an intense matchup when the Cardinals start IVC play in week four, a road game at Ridgewood.

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