The Central Valley Christian Cavaliers are thrilled to be back in the Central Section playoffs, and they’re determined to stay around as long as they can — even if things get pretty bumpy from here on out.
After a four-year absence from the postseason, the Cavaliers scored their first playoff win since 2008 and need just one more win to earn a spot in a Valley championship game.
No. 2 Central Valley Christian advanced to the Division IV semifinals with a 28-16 win over the No. 7 Cesar Chavez Titans Friday night at CVC High School.
“It feels pretty good, especially for the seniors. It was really nice to get [the win] for them. They’ve been through a lot over the years,” CVC junior Alex te Velde said.
CVC (8-3) will host No. 3 Bakersfield Christian (9-2) on Friday. Both teams were ranked in the latest CalHiSports.com CIF Division IV South bowl poll. The Cavaliers are No. 4 and the Eagles are ranked No. 5.
The winner of that game advances to the Division IV title game where they will face the winner of top-seeded Mission Oak and No. 4 Wasco, two teams ranked high in CalHiSports‘ CIF Division III South bowl poll.
“We know a lot of guys on that team. It’s a good ol’ rivalry between the two schools,” te Velde said of the showdown against Bakersfield Christian. “Great atmosphere. The best team is going to win.”
CVC’s final rushing statistics didn’t mirror its season averages, but it was more than good enough. The Cavaliers had 192 yards rushing on 38 carries (they average over 300 yards per game) with te Velde leading the way with 115 yards on 11 carries.
Senior quarterback Tony Dragt was 8-of-15 passing for 149 yards and a touchdown. Six of Dragt’s completions resulted in first downs, including three strikes to Justin Dykstra that set up 1st-and-goal situations.
Friday’s contest started off as a defensive struggle.
No scoring took place for the first 23 minutes.
The Cavaliers got on the scoreboard right before halftime with Dragt throwing a four-yard dart to Steve Van Grouw.
The Cavaliers extended their lead to 14-0 on their first possession of the second half with te Velde blazing through the middle of the Titan defense for a 56-yard touchdown.
“Our offensive line paved the way for that run. Any one could have run through that hole,” te Velde said.
Then it was a small avalanche of big plays from the Cavaliers over a five-minute stretch to begin the fourth quarter that stretched the lead to a comfortable 28-0 advantage with 6:43 remaining.
The first score during that span was a safety, which was the result of a bad snap on a punt by the Titans. The Titan punter kicked the ball out of the end zone to avert complete disaster.
The second score was a 32-yard interception return by Blake Jacobi, and Macintyre Garbani capped the Cavaliers’ scoring with a two-yard touchdown run.
Cesar Chavez scored a pair of late touchdowns, but the game was already in hand.
“I wasn’t surprised,” CVC coach Mason Hughes said of how close things were in the first half. “[Cesar Chavez is] a good team. They play well against the run, and we’re a running team. We knew it was going to be a challenge.”
Up next for CVC is a rematch with Bakersfield Christian. The Cavaliers defeated the Eagles 34-33 on Sept. 6 in the Milk Bowl at CVC.
“We have to be better. If we aren’t going to get any better, we’re not going to go very far,” Hughes said. “Hopefully we learned a great lesson [Friday] to get better.”