At the high school level, speed kills, and nobody has more of it than Valley Christian.

The Warriors ripped off one long scoring play after another Saturday to run right past Palma and into the Central Coast Section Open Division championship. The 40-14 victory at San Jose City College sets up a heavyweight showdown with top seed Palo Alto next Friday.

"We're playing really well and we feel like we earned this title shot," running back Byron Marshall said. "We've been waiting for this all year."

Back from a one-week suspension Marshall rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns in 11 carries. Marshall ended the Warriors' first drive with a 5-yard scoring run and added a 67-yard run early in the second quarter.

"I let my team down last week when I was suspended, and that was my fault," Marshall said. "I came out here to play with a purpose, and that was to get us to the next round."

In between Marshall's scores, quarterback Zach Vaiana hit Jarrod Lawson on a screen pass that went for a 13-yard touchdown. The Warriors kept the ball on the ground most of the season, but Vaiana has broken through in two postseason games. He completed 11 of 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns and has only five incompletions in wins over Serra and Palma.

"We got in a good rhythm early, and the line protected real well," Vaiana said. "We found gaps in their defense, and my receivers were always wide open. When I found them, they made plays."


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Everything went right offensively for the Warriors. Just trying to run the clock out in the final seconds of the first half, Valley Christian instead got a 33-0 halftime lead when Darrelle Jones burst to his left and outran several defenders for a 64-yard touchdown run.

Palma had just 17 yards of total offense in the first half and 178 for the game, most of which came against Valley Christian's backups in the fourth quarter. Trailing 13-0, the Chieftains lost one of their best weapons early in the second quarter when receiver Tanner Sherman hurt his neck on a collision with linebacker Jaamal Rose. Sherman was taken to a hospital but waved to the crowd as he was carted off.

With Marshall and Chad Hojer playing well at cornerback, the Warriors appear to have as good a shot as any of slowing down Palo Alto's vaunted passing game.

Valley Christian 13 20 7 0 - 40

Palma 0 0 0 14 - 14

VC — Marshall 5 run (kick blocked)

VC — Lawson 13 pass from Vaiana (Ramirez kick)

VC — Marshall 67 run (Ramirez kick)

VC — Fobbs 28 pass from Vaiana (kick failed)

VC — Jones 64 run (Ramirez kick)

VC — Chase 6 pass from Vaiana (Ramirez kick)

P — Baird 1 run (Cardona kick)

P — Valentin 18 pass from Morrison (Cardona kick)

Records — Valley Christian 11-1; Palma 10-1-1.

For more on high school sports, see Alex Pavlovic's After School blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/highschools.