Saskatoon impenetrable on defence
By Sean Trembath, The StarPhoenix
Valkyries 56, Fearless 0
It started with David taking a hand-off from quarterback Candice Bloomquist and running 59 yards up the left side of the field to open the scoring. David had a huge day, with four touchdowns and 238 yards on only five carries. While she broke a number of tackles, her big gains were set up by great blocking from the offensive line.
The Saskatoon Valkyries rode their two Julies to a huge early lead that never got any smaller as they defeated the visiting Manitoba Fearless 56-0 at Griffiths Stadium Sunday in their first playoff game of the 2012 season.
Running back Julie David and receiver Julie Paetsch combined for six of the Valkyries eight touchdowns, with David having an additional 78-yarder called back due to a penalty.
With the win, the Valkyries extend their franchise winning streak to 11, and have still never lost since joining the Western Women's Canadian Football League last year.
"For me, it's just about finding those big holes the girls are making for me and they're doing a great job of it," David said.
One of the most entertaining plays of the game was the touchdown David had called back. A Fearless player tried to tackle her at midfield, but only managed to pull off one of David's shoes. Neither the missing footwear nor the fact the Valkyries were already up 35-0 slowed the running back down, and she went the remaining 50 yards with one sock showing.
Her effort was typical of the Valkyries, who never let up no matter how lopsided the contest got.
"We play every down like it's 0-0, so that way we keep our intensity up and we just keep getting better," David said.
David is playing the position that was mostly occupied by Paetsch last season. This year, Paetsch has been given a bigger variety of roles. On Sunday, she had a rushing touchdown and a huge 76-yard receiving touchdown, with about 70 of those yards coming after she caught the ball. On top of her 129 yards of offence, she also had six tackles as a defensive back.
"I love it. Just trying any position. I want to be that utility player and just help out any way I can. We've got other girls who can run the ball," Paetsch said.
Paetsch is back at full speed after missing the start of the season with a knee injury. Although she still wears a brace, she insists the joint in no way affected her play.
"I didn't feel it at all. It felt really good," she said.
The early lead allowed Valkyries head coach Jeff Yausie to give a good amount of field time to the team's second-string players. The benefits of mixing up the lineup were twofold.
"Our starters stay healthier, we're going to have less injuries and our backups, they get more playing time and they become much better. You've got to be on the field to get better. You've got to make some mistakes," Yausie said.
The Valkyries have two weeks off to prepare for their next game, the WWCFL Prairie Conference final against the Regina Riot. That contest will be played July 8, again at Griffiths, with the winner moving on to the WWCFL Championship July 14 in Saskatoon.
The Valkyries played the Riot twice during this year's regular season, winning 36-6 at home and 35-16 in Regina. According to Yausie, the Valkyries can't take success for granted, whatever the previous scoreboards said.
"Regina is a physical team and, if you look at the stats from last game, we were pretty similar in terms of first downs and yards gained, but we made some big plays," he said.
The two-week break will allow the team to practise extra hard this week and still have time for their bodies to recover.
"We're going to have a good practice Wednesday with some contact," Yausie said, "then we'll give them a week off. Then we'll practise Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to get ready for that game."
Photo by: Richard Marjan, The StarPhoenix