The No. 1 seed from the 1A East was the banner on the pole at the Eureka-Wells game in Wells last week. It was close in the first half, but the Vandals played better in the second half and took a 68-24 win.
That gives Eureka the No. 1 seed from the east going into the first round of the NIAA playoffs, their third consecutive year with that honor.
But as coach Fred Minoletti explained it wasn’t pretty in the first half for the Vandals. “Our plan at the start was to limit their big play and take care of the ball ourselves and we did not do a good job of that in the first half. We threw an interception which they returned for a big play and ended up scoring a touchdown off of it. Then we allowed a long kick return which also led to a touchdown. Then we allowed a long pass for a touchdown as well.”
Still, the Vandals were able to score themselves and did hold a 30-24 halftime lead.
In the halftime locker room Minoletti said, “We identified and analyzed our problems, made adjustments and were able to clean that up in the second half and didn’t allow them any points or many yards. Offensively, we put up a season high of 68 and moved the ball well all night.”
On the stat sheet, quarterback Clayton Shota was 3-for-6 passing, 105 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Eureka stayed mostly on the ground, 54 times. Chris Drayton had an excellent game, four touchdowns, 179 yards on 21 carries. Gage Hayward carried 13 times for 127 yards and one touchdown. Shota ran the ball 15 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Drayton caught a touchdown pass from Shota as did Gavyn Bowling. His one reception went for a 65 yard touchdown.
On defense, the Vandals were led by Chase Green who had 10 tackles, including six solo tackles.
The Vandals (7-1, 4-0), riding a seven-game win streak have the week off as they prepare for a home game Nov. 8 or 9 against Spring Mountain (6-1), the two-time defending state champions, but No. 2 this year from the South League.
Wells (3-4, 3-1) will be on the road to play Pahranagat Valley (9-0) in Alamo in the playoffs Nov. 8. The teams played earlier in the season at Wells. The Panthers, ranked No. 30 in the nation among small schools, blasted the Leopards 68-18 including a 36-point first quarter.
Looking ahead for Eureka, the upcoming game with Spring Mountain will be one of the toughest games, if not the toughest, they have faced all season since the Eagles are the twotime champions.
Eureka and Spring Mountain have not played football against each other at least since 2000, if even before that.
Spring Mountain is an all-male state correctional school on Mt. Charleston in Las Vegas with a very athletic and speedy team led by sophomore quarterback Masiah Pagota who likes to throw the long ball often and can do so extremely well.