In the last eleven meetings on the football gridiron heading into Friday night’s season opening matchup between the Cave Spring Knights and Hidden Valley Titans, there was little doubt Hidden Valley had established a trend.
The Titans had won ten of those eleven Southwest County rivalry showdowns and Cave Spring was spared a schneid from it being eleven straight when it held on for a 17-14 win in the pandemic shortened 7-game 2020 season where the Knights survived a furious Hidden Valley fourth quarter comeback after leading the game 17-0 to start the fourth quarter.
Friday night at Dwight Bogle Stadium, Cave Spring rode a solid defensive effort, mixed it up on offense to keep the Titans off balance, and firmly expelled any notions of a rivalry jinx to run away with the 37-0 victory in front of a raucous standing-room-only crowd.
The Paint Can Trophy, symbolic of the winner of the annual rivalry game, gets a new home for at least the next 12 months when it takes a ride from Bogle one mile down the road to Chaparral Drive.
The win was the first over Hidden Valley for second-year Knight head coach Nick Leftwich, who was a proponent of moving the rivalry game to the season opener from its nearly two-decade position as the season finale in November.
The Knights led 7-0 after the first quarter, 21-0 at the halftime break, chipped in a safety to start the second half, and scored later in the third to lead 30-0 heading to the final 12 minutes.
Senior first-year quarterback Landon Altizer played a nifty game for Cave Spring, scoring on runs of 50 and 9 yards, plus hitting on 8-of-9 passes including an 18-yard touchdown strike to junior Owen Sweeney late in the second quarter. Senior Caleb Grider added a one-yard plunge in the second and sophomore Jackson Steffen galloped 59 yards for a touchdown to close out the scoring in the fourth. The Knights ran the ball 45 times for 308 yards. Altizer finished with 122 rushing yards and threw for 87 yards. Steffen ran for 68 yards on 5 carries with Cam Parker getting 8 carries for 37 yards. Senior Jackson Matthews was a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs. Execution in textbook fashion, especially for a season opener where miscues often rear their heads.
Hidden Valley seniors Jadon LaTempa and Joey Strong led the Titan rushing game with 12 yards apiece. Junior Daniel Robinson led the Titan receiving corps with 27 yards while LaTempa hauled in a pair of catches for 24 yards.
On the defensive side, Cave Spring junior 6’1″ 275lb tackle Preston Lonker and the 6ft-3 183lb Sweeney made things miserable for any designs of a Hidden Valley running game as the Knight’s defensive front held the Titans to minus rushing yards and used their pressure to hold Hidden Valley quarterback Brayden Moore to just over 65 yards through the air, hitting 6-of-15 attempts.
Hidden Valley looks to regroup next Friday night when it returns to Bogle to take on upstart William Byrd, a 42-6 road winner at Liberty Friday night. Cave Spring travels to Northside, a 43-0 loser to Pulaski County Friday night on the road.