Green Valley finds running game in Henderson Bowl win

Green Valley left guard William Bonkavich grinned from ear-to-ear after posing for photos with the Henderson Bowl trophy Friday.

It’s always fun as an offensive lineman to push your opponent around. It’s even more fun when it’s your rival.

The Gators found their running game late in an 18-6 win at Basic to down the Wolves for the second consecutive year and clinch a playoff berth. Green Valley needed to protect its lead, and its offensive line opened enough holes to kill the final 5 minutes, 56 seconds of clock.

“I’m really happy that we were able to finish it out,” said Bonkavich, a 6-foot-4-inch, 275-pound senior. “After all our hard work, just being able to throw them on the ground and know your running back is coming right off your butt for a first down is a great feeling.”

The Gators (6-4, 2-3 Southeast League) needed to win by at least 10 to earn the No. 3 seed and a playoff date at Sierra Vista next week. They took a 12-0 lead after the first quarter but two second-quarter field goals by Basic (4-6, 2-3) put the Gators’ hopes in jeopardy.

In the locker room, Bonkavich and his teammates found a response.

Green Valley rushed for 55 yards on five plays on a third-quarter touchdown drive to go up by double-digits again. Then after the defense got a fourth-down stop midway through the fourth quarter, the line made sure the Wolves never got the ball back.

“We needed that, truthfully,” coach Brian Castro said. “It’s a big-time effort by our o-line and they came through when we need them to do it.”

The Wolves, whose two field goals came from kicker Torres Miller, still made the playoffs as the No. 4 seed. Basic was outgained 350-221 and was stymied by a Gators defense that allowed a season-low six points.

Basic also had to watch as Green Valley carried the Henderson Bowl trophy around its field after the win. But after a three-game losing streak put the Gators postseason hopes in peril, they deserved to celebrate.

“Guys played physical and got after it. It’s a great win,” said Castro, who was doused in water after the win. “Obviously, for us it means new life. Our back was against the wall and we needed a win to get in and we did it.”

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