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Eagles a step closer to SVC title

By: Nick Pecoraro Telegraph Correspondent
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All that remains between Vista del Lago and a Sierra Valley Conference football title is El Dorado. Following a 35-21 win over Union Mine last Friday, the Eagles need only to beat the Cougars, 1-4 in league and 2-7 overall, a team that has scored nearly 200 points less than Vista and allowed nearly 160 more. On paper, it’s a blowout victory for the Eagles with a league title to go along with it, but, of course, the game will be played on a field in Placerville on Friday night. Even with a win Friday, though, current projections show the Eagles will likely be on the road for the first round of the playoffs. Vista coach Chris Jones said that while his team made the Division IV playoffs a year ago, he said it’s likely his team will be in the Division III bracket this year. Either way, he’s just glad his team has qualified for the postseason and earned the big win Friday over Union Mine. Vista 35, Union Mine 21 The Vista del Lago defense turned up the volume when it needed to late in the game on Friday night at Prairie City Stadium to take momentum and a win away from Union Mine, 35-21. Aaron Young hit Chris Cooper for a big pass play, which set up a 15-yard Ethan Pipion score that tied the game at 21. After Union Mine missed a field goal attempt, Vista took over on downs. Young found Cooper once again for another long pass play, which led to a three-yard strike from Young to Taylor Wisinski to break the tie, 28-21. Union Mine began charging downfield before Andrew Willets picked off a Graham Bennett pass that led to an insurance touchdown from Logan Smith to seal the Vista win. “I’d been making some mistakes and when the sideline’s calling you out, you know you’ve got to step up for them. I tried my best and got lucky and got a pick. We had a team defensive meeting and said that we can’t let this team run all over us on our senior night,” said Willets, one of 15 seniors honored for Vista. Vista turned the ball over on downs on their first drive of the second half. The Eagle ‘D’ forced a three-and-out, allowing Young to find Smith for a 25-yard touchdown midway through the third to give the Eagles a one-point advantage. Once Union Mine drove 65 yards on the game’s opening drive, Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards to the Diamondback 24 where Pipion took over, rushing three times and picking up the score to make it 7-6, Vista. “I’m so glad we got this win. That interception that Andrew made just shifted the energy around, got our offense pumped and we got in the end zone,” said Pipion, who carried the ball 21 times for 127 yards and two scores. “(Union Mine) knew they had to stop Logan and our coaches trusted me and I felt good running it.” Union Mine’s Sean Tow was a tough assignment on the ground for the Eagles. He rushed for all three Diamondback scores in the first half, including an 89-yard breakaway on first down in which he broke several Eagle tackles. The 5’6” running back rushed for more than 200 yards on the night. With one game remaining, Vista owns a tiebreaker over Liberty Ranch and Union Mine for the Sierra Valley Conference title, which increases their chance of hosting a playoff game for the second consecutive year. “Our goal is to always win a league championship first and good things happen from there,” said Vista coach Chris Jones. “That’s where it starts and when you come from there, when hosting a playoff game, you give yourself a chance a better opportunity to be successful.” JV Eagles 29, Diamondbacks 15 The bye week proved to be useful for the JV Eagles, as their defensive unit came within four minutes of a shutout and defeated Union Mine, 29-15. Vista got touchdowns from Brady Hein, Jacob Winkler, Mike Majeski and Austin Wertens, while the defense picked up three fumbles for the Eagles. “Our defense came up big. The kids played hard and tackled great. We didn’t have the best week of practice so to see them come out and play hard like this was great,” said Vista coach Kevin Placek, whose Eagles are now 4-5 with one game remaining. “It was nice to get a win after the bye week and a close game to Cosumnes Oaks.” Eagles remain unbeaten Vista’s freshman football team moved to 9-0 after beating Union Mine on Thursday, 35-0. Ryan Wert threw two touchdowns, one to Tyler Steinlein and the other to Bradley Rittenhouse, who also returned the second half kickoff back for a TD. The hard running of Antonio Mulqueeney and Nick Brown wore down the Diamondbacks. Brown had two rushing touchdowns as well. The Vista defense pitched another shutout and was aggressive all night with three sacks and seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Linebackers Michael McMahon and Tyler Rhee led the defense, while Nick Cade nailed all five PATs. “Tonight was a much better performance than last week,” Vista coach Lance Moore said. “We played much smarter and made less mistakes. Our offensive and defensive lines took it upon themselves to impose their will and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I was proud of the boys’ effort and they responded to the challenge the coaching staff placed on them earlier in the week.” Thursday’s game against El Dorado, the Eagles will be playing for a league championship and an undefeated season. The Cougars have only lost one game all season.