O'FALLON, Mo. — Late in the first quarter, the Valle Catholic Warriors turned to sophomore Grant Fallert to take over at quarterback.
Fallert scored two rushing touchdowns and threw for 77 yards on 4-of-5 passing in guiding the Warriors to a 42-7 victory over the St. Dominic Crusaders.
"I hadn't played quarterback since seventh and eighth grade," said Fallert, who played on the junior varsity team as a freshman. "This was my first time in high school. I just had to step up when the time came."
It came early in the game.
His first cousin, junior quarterback Chase Fallert, sustained an ankle injury when he was tackled after gaining 10 yards. Chase stepped in and threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to junior Bryce Giesler, who also rushed for two touchdowns.
Valle Catholic, a Class 3 school, improved to 4-0. St. Dominic, a Class 4 school, fell to 3-1.
"It was a really weird game," Valle Catholic coach Judd Naeger said. "Any time you lose an all-state quarterback in the first quarter and put in his first cousin who basically hadn't gotten a single rep at quarterback the entire year, you don't know what can happen. Our kids showed a lot of character and a lot of heart in this game. Sometimes you don't always have to be the biggest guy or the strongest guy or even the fastest guy, you just have to believe in yourself and your teammates. Tonight was an example of that from our entire our program."
The Warriors dominated the game.
Valle Catholic rushed for 295 yards. Giesler rushed for 144 yards on 16 carries. Senior Luke McClure added 71 yards on just three carries.
"I have to give credit to our line," Giesler said. "I mean, with the line we have blocking as well as they do and opening giant holes, we can run on just about anybody. This game shows we can compete with anybody. It's always a whole team effort every Friday. We had lot of guys step up in big ways."
The 5-foot-9, 156-pound Grant Fallert scored on runs of 3 and 4 yards.
"He hadn't played a down at quarterback because he's been fighting to be a wide receiver," Naeger said. He showed a lot of poise. He's a good kid. When your team needs you and you have the ability, he came through."
He also intercepted a pass playing in the secondary on defense.
The Warriors scored on their second possession when Giesler caught a screen pass. He made one tackler miss and then another before cutting to the middle of the field and racing in for the score. Isaac Basler added the first of six extra points.
"I think he's a college running back," Naeger said of Giesler. "He's flown under the radar. He's a good player. When the football is in his hands, he's the fastest guy on the field."
The Crusaders couldn't move the ball and had to punt. Senior Quinn Kiger pinned the Warriors on their 3-yard-line. St. Dominic junior Jackson Overton intercepted a pass and ran 26 yards to the 14. Four plays later, Overton scored on a 6-yard run. Max Nash added the extra point with 2 minutes 2 seconds left in the first quarter.
"This was a tough game," Overton said. "Valle is a really good team. We just have to get better in practice and play better football next week. We learned tonight the game is not a cakewalk. It's not always going to be easy. I think we'll be a better team by November."
Two plays later, Chase Fallert got hurt and Grant Fallert entered the game.
"Coach said, 'Grant, you're in at quarterback.' I thought, 'This is my time.' I knew I had to step up," Grant Fallert said. "My cousin said if I needed anything to ask him because he was there for me. I knew I could handle the pressure."
He drove Valle Catholic to the 3 and then scored on a keeper with 9:44 left in the half.
St. Dominic went three and out. Senior Aiden Heberlie returned the Crusaders' punt 58 yards on an impressive run for a touchdown. The Missouri baseball recruit flashed speed and moves when he made a cut to the right and sped down the sideline for the score. Heberlie caught four passes for 77 yards.
The Warriors defense again stiffed the Crusaders offense. On its possession, Giesler scored on a 2-yard run for a 28-7 lead with 5:09 left in the half
Valle Catholic made it 35-7 when Grant Fallert scored on a 4-yard run with 1:48 showing.
Giesler scored his final touchdown on an 18-yard run with 7:12 of the third quarter.
"This win proved we can go out there and compete with anyone," Grant Fallert said.
St. Dominic finished with 8 yards rushing and 130 yards passing.
"Valle is a great team," St. Dominic coach Blake Markway said. "I knew they could compete at the highest level and they did. Their linemen killed us on the perimeter. They're not only big but violent. We learned we've got to match physicality."