Valiant Cross earns first-ever playoff berth with win over Hooper

Valiant Cross Academy freshman quarterback N'king Patterson (9) looks over the Hooper Academy defense before running a play in Friday's game. 

HOPE HULL -- Last year, in its first year as a program, Valiant Cross Academy defeated Hooper but missed the postseason after tiebreakers based on points put the Colts in the playoffs.

This year, the Warriors faced Hooper in a similar scenario, with the winner of Friday’s game at Davis Henry Field earning a playoff berth and Valiant Cross punched their ticket to the postseason with a 51-7 win over the Colts.

“(This win) really means a lot, especially since we just started this school about seven years ago,” Valiant Cross coach Fred Brock said. “It means a lot to (our seniors), being the first senior class for Valiant Cross, and I think they’ll always look back on this and remember it.”

Valiant Cross (3-4) is off next week before traveling to Tuscaloosa Academy for the first round of the AISA Class AAA playoffs, the first-ever postseason game for the Warriors.

“We’ve got a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and we still have to clean up a lot of mistakes,” Brock said. “Hopefully we can get some of that cleaned up and make a (playoff) run.”

Valiant Cross freshman quarterback N’king Patterson had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown on the night. Senior wide receiver and defensive back Cory Brown scored a receiving touchdown, a rushing touchdown, and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Senior running back and safety Isaac Harris along with senior wide receiver Alonza Arrington both scored touchdowns while freshman wide receiver and defensive back Xavier Dunn recorded two interceptions along with an interception return for a touchdown.

Harris got the scoring started for the Warriors less than two minutes into the game with his lone rushing touchdown of the game to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead.

Hooper quarterback Ron McGinty would give the Colts their only score of the game off of a quarterback run less than three minutes into the second quarter to tie the game 7-7.

On the next Warriors possession, Brown caught a touchdown pass from Patterson to give the Warriors a 14-7 lead.

Valiant Cross would then capitalize off of an interception by Dunn with a Brown touchdown run to extend their lead to 21-7 late in the second quarter.

The next score for the Warriors came off of a Patterson touchdown run with about seven and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter to give Valiant Cross a 28-7 lead.

On the ensuing Colts’ possession, McGinty’s pass was intercepted by Dunn who returned it for a touchdown to take their lead to 36-7 after a successful two-point conversion.

Arrington then scored his lone rushing touchdown of the game to give the Warriors a 43-7 lead.

The Colts muffed the ensuing kickoff and the Warriors were able to fall on the ball in the end zone for a safety to take the score 45-7, then Brown then ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown.

R.J. Coker led the Colts with 90 rushing yards, while Sean Murphy added 48 receiving yards. Coker led the Hooper defense with seven tackles, followed by Xavier Boswell with six and Lucas Spellman with five tackles and a sack.

Hooper (2-7) closes out the season next week at home against Cornerstone Christian.

With so many seniors on this year’s team, Brock is looking ahead to next year and how important it is to start fostering leaders now to lead the team next season.

“As with anything, leadership is important,” said Brock. “We’re going to lose a lot of seniors next year, and we have to get a lot of our younger guys ready to play, so we’ll keep trying to make leaders for next year.”