Spring Valley’s football team has started to get its rushing attack going, just in time to make a playoff push in Class 4A Southwest League play.
Kevin Benoza had 144 yards rushing and a touchdown on 18 carries, and Clark Genneken added 58 yards rushing and two touchdowns on seven carries to lead the Grizzlies to a 27-8 home win over Clark on Friday night.
Spring Valley (4-3, 2-2) finished with 233 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive with two league games remaining.
“We really work hard on our running game, and it was one of the things we came into the season wanting to be better in,” Spring Valley coach Marcus Teal said. “We wanted to be more balanced after being a real pass-heavy team last year.
“(Benoza) has been really doing a great job getting hard yards when he needs to. We incorporated ‘Big’ Clark Genneken this week in our big package. His first play he rips off a huge touchdown run. It’s just big for our team and for our offense, which has been stymied a lot this year. It was good for us to run the ball well.”
It took Spring Valley just two plays to get on the scoreboard, as Genneken rumbled through the Chargers defense for a 35-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter.
Benoza added a 35-yard scoring run in the second quarter to extend the lead, and Genneken scored his second touchdown of the night on a 3-yard run to push the Grizzlies’ lead to 21-0.
“Honestly, it’s not a single person, it’s more like my team,” Benoza said. “If I’m on a good level with my linemen and my blockers, I’ll be able to get through.”
But the Chargers (2-5, 1-4) didn’t go away, and responded with an 11-play, 64-yard touchdown drive — capped by a 1-yard run by Justin Aguilar — to cut the lead to 21-8 at the half.
Clark’s best drive in the second half stalled out at the Spring Valley 5-yard line early in the third quarter, and the Spring Valley defense pitched a shutout in the second half.
Mitchell Otis and Austin Connors each had an interception in the second half, Marquelle Diggs recovered a fumble, and Joseph Pienta had a sack that stopped another drive. Otis also had a first-half interception for the Grizzlies.
“(Getting interceptions) was one thing that we stressed a lot this week, and to see these guys come out and get three picks, it was big,” Teal said. “We’re finding our way.”
The Grizzlies iced the game on Kash Jenkins’ 5-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Antwan McClure rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries and caught an 11-yard pass to lead the Chargers offense.