Taking Care Of Business: River Valley Bounces Back From Last Year’s Loss To Take Crown

Finish it.

Those two words rang throughout the River Valley crowd during Saturday’s Division IV state championship between the Dust Devils and Snowflake High School.

River Valley came ever so close last year to a state championship, but could not get past Blue Ridge in the state final.  

So this year, the fans chanted “Finish it”, and the players did exactly that.

“We perfected ‘finish it’ tonight in all facets of the game. In special teams, defense, offense, we were clicking,” running back Brandon Long said.

River Valley needed everything to click to escape with their 28-21 win, and the Division-IV title. Both teams came in with well-established running games. Each defense came ready to play, and each yard came at a premium.

Long, who came into the game with 36 rushing touchdowns, found the end zone twice, but perhaps his biggest accomplishment was drawing attention from the defense and creating just enough space so quarterback Brady Viles could throw for two touchdowns, one of which was an 82-yard-completion.

“Really, we’re an all-around offense,” Viles said. “We can run, we can pass, we can do everything. We showed tonight we can run and pass, and we’re a complete offense.”

Long has been a workhorse for River Valley all year, and he isn’t afraid to let the coaching staff know if he feels he is being under-utilized.

“He gets mad at me when I don’t give (the ball) to him,” head coach Paul Duchaineau said. “I don’t want to wear him down, but he said, ’Coach, I got all summer, I got all winter to relax.’”

After the state championship win, Long felt no pain or fatigue from the battle he endured, but he doesn’t expect that to last.

“I’m not feeling anything right this second. Nothing but smiles and love in this area right now, but I’m pretty sure tomorrow I’m going to be feeling more than just love,” Long said with a smile.

With the leadership of Long and Viles, the Dust Devils took their goals, and their disappoint from last year’s playoff loss and finished the task at hand.

“When kids work this hard this long and they deserve it, it’s good to see the happiness on their face. That’s what we play the game for,” Duchaineau said. 

So for the Dust Devils of River Valley, consider their business finished in 2014.

Mixing his passions for sports and storytelling, Jordan comes to Sports360az as a multimedia reporter/producer looking to share the best stories Arizona has to offer. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @JordyHamm