POCATELLO – It’s hard to imagine what the Skyline football team would look like without senior quarterback Cruz Taylor.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, that was the nightmare scenario they faced Friday night in the opening round of the 4A state playoffs against Vallivue at Holt Arena.
Taylor suffered a dislocated elbow after being sacked with 5:37 left in the first quarter. He was helped off the field and taken to the hospital for treatment.
The game was scoreless at the time, but that quickly changed as Vallivue’s own senior quarterback Lan Larison took over and Skyline never recovered as the Falcons dominated on the way to a 41-0 victory.
After Taylor was helped off the field, it looked like the Grizzlies (6-4) were deflated on both sides of the ball.
“He’s a senior and a leader and everybody looks up to him and he’s a playmaker and he flies around for us,” Skyline coach Scott Berger said of missing Taylor on the field.
That wasn’t the case with Vallivue (8-2), which put together an impressive 82-yard drive on the following possession and took a 7-0 lead.
Skyline fumbled to open the second quarter and again the Falcons took advantage with another long drive.
Things didn’t get any better for the Grizzlies as their run game was shut down by Vallivue, which was able to neutralize Skyline’s speed. Junior quarterback Cade Marlow, who had played sparingly on varsity this season, was pressed into action for Taylor and struggled early.
Vallivue essentially put the game away before the half, scoring with 1:03 left and then adding a defensive touchdown when Marlow fumbled in the end zone with 23 seconds left.
Falcons coach Layne Coffin said it was important to get off to a good start. Larison made sure of that, rushing for 122 yards and three touchdowns. He also passed for a score. Carson Child added 86 rushing yards and an 8-yard touchdown run.
“We all kind of feed off Lan,” Coffin said. “But he’s got some really good weapons around him. It was a good combined effort.”
Skyline had a couple of chances to score. The Grizzlies got down to the 10-yard-line but were stopped on a fourth-down run in the fourth. They also moved down to the Falcons’ 4-yard-line in the closing seconds after Marlow connected on a 67-yard pass down the right sideline to Elijah Johnson. The Grizzlies eventually got to the 1-yard-line, but Marlow’s pass as the clock ticked down fell incomplete.
“That quarterback (Larison) is a phenomenal kid and all week long we talked about stopping him,” Berger said. “We had him third and long a couple of times and we knew he was going to run and we let him off the hook.”
Luke Ruiz led Skyline with 50 yards rushing. Marlow finished 7 of 21 for 146 yards with two interceptions.
Berger said he had hoped a tough early-season schedule would pay dividends for a team with a relatively small senior class. The Grizzlies won three straight games entering the playoffs and finished second in the 4A District 6 standings.
“Time waits for nobody,” Berger said. “Those younger guys have to keep going and pick it up and get better. We’re going to have a lot of returning guys next year, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.”
VALLIVUE 41, SKYLINE 0
Vallivue 7 27 7 0 – 41
Skyline 0 0 0 0 –0
V – Lan Larison 3 run (Braydon Ary kick), 0:30
V – Carson Child 8 run (Ary kick)
V – Larison 18 run (Ary kick), 3:15
V – Casey Cope 6 pass from Larison (kick fail), 1:03
V – Defense fumble recovery in end zone (Ary kick), 0:23
V – Larison 1 run (Ary kick), 5:01
RUSHING: Vallivue, Larison 16-122, Child 16-86, Sabastian Diaz 4-10, Cope 3-2. Skyline, Eli Ames 7-12, Luke Ruiz 9-50, Cruz Taylor 3-(minus-2), Connor Maloney 3-1, Cade Marlow 6-13.
PASSING: Vallivue, Larison 6-11-108-0, Cope 1-1-28-0. Skyline, Taylor 3-3-16-0, Marlow 7-21-146-2.
RECEIVING: Vallivue, Cope 5-89, Lincoln Marler 1-19, Larison 1-28. Skyline, Johnson 5-101, Ames 3-48, Ruiz 1-3, Jace Eames 1-10.