"Leopards wipe out Wildcats" By John Hoffman Special to the Sentinel

God’s Creations/Lanora Luna
Van Vleck wide receiver Jalen Williams (6) gets some forward blocking from tackle Garrett Chambless (55) for yardage against Wheatley last Friday night.

   The Van Vleck Leopards scored on their first six possessions of the first half and never looked back in a 45-20 thrashing of the Wheatley Wildcats here Friday night.
      Everyone who filled Burl McKinney stadium was nervously anticipating how the Leopards would respond exactly one week after the unexpected passing of defensive coordinator Paul Benien, but it didn’t take the crowd long to see that the orange and black was ready to go.
   The Leopards took the opening kickoff from their own 30-yard line and went to work. Van Vleck quarterback Josh DeLarosa and running back Sam Bree led the offensive down the field. 
   DeLarosa hooked up with Jalen Williams to set the Leopards up at the Wheatley 1-yard line on the 9th play of the drive, with Bree taking it in from there for the first touchdown of the night. The 2-point conversion was no good, but Van Vleck had an early 6-0 lead with 9:03 left in the first quarter.
   After a Wheatley punt, the Van Vleck offense hit pay dirt again. The Leopards needed only 4 plays, as DeLarosa connected with Cameron Franklin on a 29-yard touchdown pass for the score.
    The two-point conversion was no good, but Van Vleck was up 12-0 with 4:36 left in the first quarter. 
   The Van Vleck kickoff team gave the ball right back to the offense, as the Leopards recovered a Wheatley fumble on the ensuing kickoff, setting the Leopards up at the Wildcat 35-yard line. 
   The Leopard offense turned it into points, going 35 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a 22-yard screen pass touchdown from DeLarosa to Bree to up the Van Vleck lead to 18-0 with time still left in the first quarter.
   The Wildcats answered the Van Vleck touchdown on their next possession, going 80 yards in 10 plays. The conversion failed, but Wheatley was on the scoreboard, trailing 18-6.
   The Leopards responded on their next drive, with a good mix of runs and passes. Van Vleck went 52 yards on this possession, capping the drive off with a Sam Bree 1-yard run. Bree also converted the 2-point conversion, pushing the score to 26-6 with 7:01 still left in the first half.
   The Van Vleck defense responded on the next Wheatley possession, as Wildcat quarterback Jason Watson’s pass was intercepted by Christian Ellis, giving the ball back to the Leopard offense at the Wheatley 40-yard line.
   Van Vleck again converted the turnover into points, as DeLarosa hooked up with Franklin on a beautiful 35-yard pass for another Leopard score. Slade Huerta booted the extra point, increasing the Van Vleck lead to 33-6 with 5:03 left in the second quarter.
   On the ensuing Wheatley possession, the Van Vleck defense once again made a big play. On the third play of the possession, Leopard linebacker Connor Stevens jumped on a fumbled snap, giving Van Vleck the ball back at the Wheatley 41-yard line.
   Van Vleck needed only 1 play on this drive, with DeLarosa connecting on a 41-yard pass to Brandon Burnett for another Leopard touchdown to make the score 39-6 at halftime.
   Wheatley scored on their first possession of the second half to cut the Van Vleck score to 39-12, but the Leopards would answer that score with one of their own later in the quarter. After the teams traded possessions, Van Vleck would hit the end zone again. 
   The Leopards took the ball at their own 46-yard line, and only needed 3 plays to score. Josh DeLarosa went to the air again, going deep on a 63-yard strike to Jalen Williams for another Van Vleck touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed, but the Leopard were in control at 45-12 late in the third quarter.
   Van Vleck emptied their bench in the fourth quarter, getting several players valuable playing time, as the Wildcats added a late touchdown to end the scoring and the game. 
   The Leopards return home this Friday night for a homecoming matchup against the Kashmere Rams. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.   

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