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PREP FOOTBALL: Ithaca locks up playoff spot with win over Valley Lutheran

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Week six of the high school football season always carries some special significance for unbeaten teams.

With a win against the Saginaw Valley Lutheran Chargers Terry Hessbrook and his Ithaca Yellowjackets guaranteed themselves a spot in the 2013 postseason Friday as the hosts rolled to a 49-6 victory.

“It’s always our goal to win the league and to get to the playoffs. And if you take care of business during the regular season hopefully you can get yourself some (postseason) home games,” Hessbrook said.

It was also homecoming night and school spirit on full display as pomp and circumstance was at its peak for the larger-than normal crowd..

“We had a huge crowd here tonight, it was great. Everybody got a chance to play, and I think the kids put on a pretty good show for them,” Hessbrook said.

Early on the Yellowjackets illustrated full understanding of that importance as a quick three-and-out from the defense and a deep pass from quarterback Travis Smith To Eli Villalobos kick-started the first touchdown drive of the night which culminated in a 19-yard strike to Josh Hafner.

That pattern repeated itself as Valley Lutheran’s quarterback struggled to establish a presence in the pocket, and the run game fared no better. Ithaca (6-0) then capitalized with a 16-yard score through the air from Smith to Logan Hessbrook.

A bobbled pass for Valley Lutheran led to a 55-yard punt return from Villalobos, making it 21-0 Yellowjackets with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.

Valley Lutheran had its best field position when on a fourth down punt the ‘Jackets had an illegal participation penalty, making it 1st-and-10 from the 37 yardline.

Valley Lutheran was backed up by a penalty of its own, but was moving downfield when Logan Hessbrook intercepted the ball, and returned it down to the 24 yardline.

On the subsequent play, Bryan Shaw darted in the end zone for his first score of the night.

Hafner tallied another score to his total just before the half was over on a 35-yard ball from Travis Smith, who was leveled when he let it go.

Shaw scored again from five yards out, making it a 42-point advantage for the ‘Jackets before halftime.

During the halftime ceremony Shaw was announced Homecoming King and senior Leah Bontrager was crowned Queen.

Ithaca came out of halftime pounding away on the ground all while working the running clock.

In the third quarter Valley Lutheran appeared to find its way in stopping the heavily substituted offense of Ithaca until Jake Smith ran around the edge for another score from 10-yards out.

However Valley Lutheran was able to respond with its first score of the night, a 32-yard halfback pass.

At the end of the night the final score was 49-6 in favor of the ‘Jackets, clinching a postseason berth.

“It’s great to be back in the playoffs, I just told the guys ‘hey you just guaranteed yourself one more week of football,’” Hessbrook said of the win.

Next week the Yellowjackets travel into the heart of Saginaw to take on the Cardinals of Michigan Lutheran Seminary.

The victor of that game will win the outright 2013 conference title for the Tri-Valley West Conference.

“We’ll have our hands full going to their place, I want our kids to have a great week of practice and to really be prepared going into the game. Hopefully we can go over there, execute and justs do what we do,” Hessbrook said about next week’s matchup.

Last Updated: 10/4/2013 10:54:14 PM EST