Photo By L. Scott Bennett: Desmond Cheney (39) and Malachi Rogers (10) close in on Valley Union’s Billy Vansickle (7).
By L. Scott Bennett
FORT THOMAS – The Fort Thomas Apaches (5-0) cruised to victory Friday night by defeating the Valley Union Blue Devils (1-5) 58-14. Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the Gila Valley, the Apaches have soundly defeated every team they have faced this season thanks to a stellar defense and an offense which can beat you on the ground or through the air.
The Blue Devils started the night out hot receiving the opening kickoff and moving the ball down the field. Scoring in just over one minute, Valley Union’s junior quarterback Billy Vansickle took it 54 yards to the end zone. The Apaches stopped the 2-point try, but the Blue Devils were on the board.
After a couple of stalled drives, by both the Apaches and the Blue Devils, Valley Union was nearing the end zone once again. With the Blue Devils inside the red zone, the Apache defense stepped up and forced a Devil fumble. Fort Thomas recovered the ball and never looked back.
Starting their drive on their own 18, the Apaches worked down the field, where on 4th-and-six from the Valley Union 6-yard line, junior signal caller Todd Stringfellow hit junior Malachi Rogers with a touchdown pass. The 2-point conversion was no good, but with 3:12 left to play in the opening quarter, the Apaches had tied the game.
After forcing Valley Union to punt on their next possession, Fort Thomas found the end zone one more time before time expired in the first quarter when Stringfellow hit junior Zack Walker for a 47-yard touchdown pass. The Apaches were successful on the 2-point attempt, and as the quarter ended they were up 14 – 6.
It would take only about one game time minute for Fort Thomas to score again thanks to a Blue Devil turnover when Fort Thomas senior Kendall Stanley intercepted the Valley Union QB. After working the ball down the field, senior running back Tagipo Fiame ran it in from the 11. With the touchdown and the successful 2-point try, the Apaches were up 22-6
But Fort Thomas was not quite done scoring in the first half, as the Apaches punched one more in before the break. Stringfellow called his own number and ran one in from the 2-yard line. With the score, the Apaches opened up an impressive 22-point lead.
Valley Union showed some signs of life when they scored right as time expired in the first half after Vansickle got his second TD of the day. That score and successful 2-point conversion would prove to be it for the Blue Devils as they would not find the end zone again.
The second half was all Fort Thomas as they found the end zone four more times before the end of the game. Stringfellow took one in from the 20 early in the third quarter. The QB connected with Rogers again, just past the midway point in the third. Zack Walker scored when he ran one in from the eight with 2:18 left in the third quarter. The Apaches then brought the scoring to a close when sophomore Ramsey Cosen ran it in from the 12 with just under two minutes left in the game.
With the four second-half touchdowns and the Apache defense shutting down the Blue Devils, the game ended at 58-14.
After the game, Fort Thomas head coach Bracken Walker praised his boys and their hard work.
“Defensively, the last three or four games have been the best that I have seen since I’ve been here,” Walker said.
He went on to explain that the defense makes it easy for the offense when they keep giving them these short fields.
“There’s always the worry that you are going to lose focus, and I thought we lost a little bit of focus this week in practice but they came out and played great,” Walker said. “We’re going to get ready for a good, tough Duncan team.”
The Apaches will look to remain undefeated when they host the 3-2 (2-0 in section) Duncan WildKats on Friday, Sept. 29 in Fort Thomas.
While 3-2, Duncan is a perfect 2-0 in section and will be looking to take down the Apaches. Fort Thomas is the clear favorite and hopes to continue its perfect season.