West Des Moines, Ia. — Connor Sorge always imagined picking off an opponent’s pass and returning the football from one end zone to the other.
What he wasn’t told about the feat — you’ll be left breathless.
Sorge returned an interception 100 yards, one of five Valley pickoffs, in the No. 7 Tigers’ 28-0 win over No. 8 Sioux City East Friday in a game between Class 4-A Western Iowa Division 1 leaders.
According to records kept by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, only 20 athletes prior to this season had returned an interception coast to coast. Presumably all were huffing and puffing at the end.
“I was dead,” said Sorge, who also picked off a pass on East’s following possession. “I stayed on the sideline and ran as fast as I could.”
His teammate, Gabe Brown, also returned one for a score. His third-quarter interception went 59 yards.
Valley (7-2) shut out one of the state’s top passing attacks. East had won seven straight games this season and piled up nearly 2,500 yards passing. The Tigers forced eight punts Friday, too.
The defending state champions ran their playoff streak to 22 consecutive years — the second-longest total in the state — and reached the postseason for the 28th time in school history.
Sorge had one interception previously in his career. East trailed 21-0 early in the fourth quarter with the ball at the Valley 3-yard line.
“You hope that’s going to happen, but you can’t rely on it,” Valley coach Gary Swenson said. “It pretty much took the wind right out of them.”
East’s Taylor DeLaughter was held to 93 yards passing on 36 attempts. He had thrown for 2,189 yards and 19 touchdowns before Friday.
Valley’s defense was boosted by the addition of Jake Campos, an offensive lineman who is a Missouri recruit. Campos said he’s played defensive end for three days.
“The defense was huge tonight,” Campos said. “Without them, we don’t win that game.”
Campos, who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 250 pounds, was added to help pressure East’s quarterback.
“He’s hard to block,” Swenson said.
East had the third-highest passing yardage total in the state and had given up seven interceptions prior to playing Valley.
“We turned the ball over, it’s that simple,” East coach Bob Goodvin said. “They did a good job of taking it away.”
Valley’s Tanner Stine threw for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Stine tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Drew Gray with 10:09 left in the opening quarter.
He connected with Clint Boffeli on a 36-yard scoring play midway through the second period.
Boffeli also intercepted a pass. Luke Tang also picked off one.
Swenson, who has led Valley to five state championships, has won 299 games in his career. He also won one at Spencer in 1994.
Sioux City East 0 0 0 0 — 0
Valley 7 7 7 7 — 28
V– Gray 12 pass from Stine (Langer kick)
V — Boffeli 36 pass from Stine (Langer kick)
V — Brown 59 interception return (Langer kick)
V — Sorge 100 interception return (Langer kick)
Rushing–Sioux City East: Carter 16-64, Kirwan 6-14; Valley: Mason 22-69, Gray 8-39.
Passing–Sioux City East: DeLaughter 13-36-5-93; Valley: Stine 8-16-2-126, Schulte 0-1-1-0, Hinkle 0-1-0-0.
Receiving–Sioux City East: Thompson-Williams 7-72, Nash 2-15, Dunson 1-10; Valley: Boffeli 4-72, Hartman 1-20, Hinkle 1-20, Gray 1-12.