The Vanden High School soccer team wins its first section since 1995 with the triumph over Merced – The Vacaville Reporter
STOCKTON – After waiting for a Sac Joaquin section crown for 26 years, the Vanden High School football team just had to turn east.
The Vikings traveled east towards Stockton’s St. Mary’s High on Saturday afternoon to face Merced in the Division IV title game. Vanden also steered the championship competition in the direction of wide receiver / defensive back Jamai East.
East got three touchdowns from quarterback Tre Dimes and had two groundbreaking interceptions – including a 24-yard pick-six early in the fourth quarter. The rest of his teammates did the rest and is a convincing 49-21 win.
When East came out of the Vanden locker room, he was greeted with chants of “MVP! MVP! ”From the Vanden crowd.
“We just had to step it up,” said East of what was being talked about at halftime. “We had to play at our level.”
The game was 21:21 at halftime, but the No. 2 seeded Vikings (11-2) dominated the No. 4 Bears (9-4) in the second half, both offensively and defensively.
Vanden High cornerback Robert Breed (7) sprints towards the end zone on Saturday after intercepting a pass at Merced’s first game of the game in the first quarter of the Vikings section’s title win. (Joel Rosenbaum / The Reporter)
“(Merced) played great games in the first half so we told our boys to keep pushing, keep playing hard,” said Vanden head coach Sean Murphy. “We haven’t made a lot of major adjustments. We made a few small adjustments, but we felt like if we kept playing hard things would go our way and they did. ”
The win was especially satisfying for Murphy, who was a junior offensive lineman on the 1995 team that defeated Bear River in the 1995 championship.
“It was a lot more nerve-wracking than being a player,” said Murphy. “It has been a great trip for us since last spring that we have faced with all sorts of adversities. We are very proud of our student athletes. ”
Long before East’s pick-six in the second half, Vanden started the game with an interception return for a touchdown when Robert Breed intercepted quarterback Seth Scheidt’s pass, bringing him back 33 yards into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
After forcing a turnover at Downs, Vanden drove 94 yards to just seven yards, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown from Sean Davis and a 14-0 lead with 6:07 in the first quarter. Dimes hooked up with wide receiver Brayden Chavez on ports 18 and 35 on the drive.
Chavez, a second receiver, had five catches for 102 yards. Merced had some success choking Vanden top receiver Michael Belk, but the Bears couldn’t take away all of the Viking’s passport catchers.
“I think (Merced) was trying to get more people on Belk and that left recipients like Jamai and me open and that helped a lot,” said Chavez.
The Bears cut the lead in half on their subsequent drive when Enoch Evans pulled them in from 34 meters away. A bad snap on a punt on Vanden’s next drive prepared Merced for another touchdown – this a 31-yard touchdown strike by Scheidt ‘against Jack Collins, who came in fourth and 20th early in the second quarter.
Vanden High linebacker Devin Martin (58) dismisses Merced High quarterback Seth Scheidt during the second quarter of the Vikings 49-21 win over the Bears in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championship game 2021 on Saturday at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton. (Joel Rosenbaum / The Reporter)
The Vikings took a 21:14 lead, 5:47 in the half when Dimes found East for a 55-yard touchdown catch. East made a spectacular catch over his shoulder in front of his defender in the game.
Merced beat Vanden again in fourth place with 2:05 left at halftime when Scheidt scored again with Collins for a 43-yard touchdown reception. The extra point was 21-21 and so it would go to the locker room.
After Vanden’s second possession in the second half, the Vikings took the final lead with a Dimes-to-East 8-yard touchdown and completed a 67-yard, seven-play drive.
Meanwhile, the Vikings ‘defense blocked Scheidt and the bears’ passing game. Vanden forced a punt and then scored again in the fourth quarter with a Dimes-to-East 13-yard touchdown catch with 11:55 left. Merced’s Chase Smith disturbed East in the game, but the wide receiver shook him off and made the catch in the end zone anyway.
Things got worse for the Bears on the first game of their next possession when East jumped in front of a receiver and raced 24 yards into the end zone to take the 42-21 lead. The Vikings crossed in their final touchdown with 9:07 minutes in play on a Dimes-to-Davis 51-yard touchdown pass.
Dimes was 12-for-20 for 247 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Scheidt finished the race with 197 yards passing with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Vanden caught him behind the line of scrimmage seven times and put more pressure on him in the second half as the caller missed one point on eight out of nine passes.
Vanden High’s Jamai East touches a banner with the portrait of teammate Daniel Hughes, who was killed in April. The Vikings dedicated their season to him. (Joel Rosenbaum / The Reporter)
Winning the title was also special as the team dedicated the season to fallen teammate Daniel Hughes, who was shot on April 4 and eventually succumbed to his injuries. The players talked about him as they posed for the championship photo.
“We played for our brother Daniel,” said Chavez. “That kept us going all along.”
Vanden is now entitled to a bowl game in Northern California that will be played on December 3rd or 4th. The brackets are expected to be released on Sunday.