VICTORIA — Victoria took a 30-point win in its first meeting with Sylvan-Lucas back on Sept. 25, but the Knights saw enough from the Mustangs to know they could present some potential challenges.
Victoria met those challenges with ease in Friday’s playoff matchup, rolling to a regional title with a 50-0 home win in one half of play against Sylvan-Lucas.
The Knights (10-0) will advance to the round of eight in the Eight-Man Division II playoffs, meeting Wheatland-Grinnell on the road next Friday in Grainfield.
The Victoria defense shined against the Mustangs, surrendering just 72 yards.
"I was really, really proud of our guys defensively," Victoria coach Doug Oberle said. "We put some stuff in this week. When we played them the first time (52-22 Victoria win), they ran us up and down this field all night. We wanted to try to do our best not to allow that to happen.
"(Sylvan-Lucas coach Ben Labertew) does a great job. They have great players over there."
Victoria put the Mustangs away early, building a 26-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
"I feel like since we played them last time we were a little bit more prepared," Victoria junior Grant Schoenrock said. "We knew what they would do, and as long as we could stop it, we would be OK."
Schoenrock, the Knights’ quarterback, put Victoria on the board with a 36-yard run on the first possession, and running back Jayvon Pruitt scored on a 2-yard run and caught an 11-yard pass from Schoenrock to make it 20-0.
On the ensuing possession after Pruitt’s touchdown catch, Schoenrock pried the ball away from the Mustang kick returner and raced 40 yards for a touchdown.
"I was coming down and I saw that he was breaking away, and then I saw someone else had him on the legs," Schoenrock said. "Coach Oberle always teaches us to strip if you’re the second guy there. I got there and I just grabbed the tip of the ball and I pulled and pulled until I got it away, and then just ran."
In the second quarter, Pruitt scored from 21 and 65 yards, and Schoenrock had a 1-yard TD plunge.
Pruitt, a senior, rushed for 150 yards on just 12 carries with three TDs on the ground.
"It’s a pleasure to watch him," Schoenrock said. "Being on the sideline watching him run is great, but being on the field is just another thing."
"Really proud of the way we ran the ball," Oberle said. "I thought Jayvon ran really well. We put the ball on the ground one time, but I was really pleased with how he ran the ball. Blocking-wise I was happy."
Defensively, Oberle credited the Knights aggressiveness. They created three turnovers — the fumble forced by Schoenrock and interceptions by Lucas Klein and Nate Windholz. Schoenrock led Victoria with nine tackles while Carson Werth had six.
"The first time we played them we were doing a lot more reading, just trying to sit back and read," Oberle said. "They were getting off the ball and punching us. We were trying to be a little more aggressive, we were trying to get after them in the gaps and do some things.
"I thought our linebackers did well. The first time we played them our two D-ends really struggled, and I thought they played really well tonight."
A big concern for the Knights was trying to neutralize Mustang senior standout Tra Barrientes up front.
"We tried to do some things to him on both sides of the ball; he’s a great football player," Oberle said. "Probably one of the best athletes we’ll see. He plays hard, has a great motor."
After the game, Oberle called parents and players together to implore them to continue to take precautions against COVID-19.
"We’ve got to be smart away from football," Oberle said. "We’ve got to do the right things away from the practice field, evenings, weekends. We’ve got to put ourselves in a position to continue to play."
The Knights will look to continue their outstanding season against Wheatland-Grinnell, a 36-26 winner at Coldwater South Central on Friday.
"It’s been an interesting season all the way around. 2020’s been that way, it’s crazy," Oberle said. "I feel like in the last four weeks, for sure, we’re gotten better each and every week. I was really proud of seniors. They’ve come together. Our young guys have gotten better. We’ve had some injuries and we’ve been able to get some other guys on the field. Everybody’s been coming together and doing their job. Next-man up mentality.
"Hopefully we’ll get a little healthy and we’ll see what we can do next week."
Sylvan-Lucas ended the season with a 7-3 mark.