High School Football:
Friday, November 12, 1999
By Greg Alvord
On a blustery night here at Eastern Stadium, the Vikings of Eastern and the Renegades of Shawnee treated a packed house of 3,000 gridiron fans to a fabulous playoff battle. In the end, Eastern came out victorious with a 34-19 score. The victory pushes Eastern into the state semifinals versus Jackson next week. The Vikings (9-0) had to fight long and hard against the spirited Renegades to keep their record perfect. Many a fan strapped themselves in expecting a duplicate of these two teams' first matchup, a record shattering 61-41 Viking win. They would not be disappointed with this game.
Shawnee's offense got things going. The Renegades drove down the field to the Viking 18-yard line. On the next play, Shawnee quarterback Chris Hodge dropped back and spiraled a beauty of a pass to a slanting Chris Kay for a Shawnee touchdown. Eastern would come back behind the leadership of Adam Taliaferro. The play of Taliaferro on this night was mind boggling. Most people never had Nerf football games like the game Taliaferro had, five touchdowns and over 350 total yards.
Running behind a college-like offensive line that consisted of Justin Glenn, Justin Barton, Gregg Wren, Mike Davidowick and Nick Mourtos, Taliaferro was a flashback to the electrifying running style of Gale Sayers. A quick stepping, gyrating 78-yard touchdown run was evident of that. If there wasn't the high scoring shootout in the first half that might have been expected, the second half would make up for that. Both clubs headed into the locker room at the half with Shawnee holding the lead.
As the teams headed out for the second half, a group of Shawnee fans were heckling the Vikings. This could have added the spark that ignited this dangerous Eastern team. Shawnee made the score 19-13 on a burst by Hodge to give the fans more to cheer about. This would be Shawnee's last bit of joy as the Vikings knuckled down and ran off the next twenty-one points. On the next series, Eastern put together a Vince Lombardi-classic drive. They marched 85-yards, with Taliaferro scampering the final 15-yards for the go ahead 20-19 score. The Viking's defense held the Renegades and forced a punt on their next series. On the next play, Taliaferro followed fullback Ed Carter's crushing block and rushed 65-yards into the endzone.
The Eastern defense was psyched as Shawnee's offense tried in vain to mount a comeback. The ball-hawking, hard-hitting Vikings' "D" would have none of it. The Renegades offense was asked, what did they think? Like "The Rock" says, "It doesn't matter what you think" because the momentum was on Eastern's side.
Shawnee turned the ball over on downs at the 35-yard line. With time running down, Taliaferro and his Viking mates burst into the endzone for the final time to make the score 34-19. Joe Pa and the rest of the Happy Valley faithful are surely going to be delighted with the arrival of Taliaferro next year. But, as for the rest of this year, the Vikings' club has some unfinished business that won't be settled until they are completed their march through the Group IV playoffs.
Photos by Dan Cleary
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