After a crushing loss to Auburn Riverside in the league championship, the Auburn Trojans football team was faced with a tough test in Week 10: the Lincoln Abes, who beat the Trojans, 56-22, on Nov. 4.
“The last two weeks we’ve just made a lot of mistakes that we can’t do… Obviously it hurts, there were moments where we were doing what we were capable of doing,” said Head Coach Aaron Chantler.
On Lincoln’s first possession, the Abes got the games first score, but Auburn responded. Senior QB DJ Bielza found Luvens Valcin twice down the left sideline for huge gains. Valcin had his number called once more for a three yard touchdown run.
“We kind of started off slow and the game went back and forth. We just came up short. I feel like they’re gonna bounce back next year,” said senior Lukens Valcin.
Besides that lone Trojans drive in the first quarter, Lincoln jumped on the Trojans from the opening whistle scoring 28 points in the first quarter.
It was a strange first half for Auburn defensively. The Trojan defense allowed 42 points, not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. But when having to drive more than 50 yards, the Auburn defense got pressure and forced turnover on downs. But Lincoln took advantage of every short field, giving the offense and freshman QB Sione Kaho a huge lead to play with.
“We got pressure, we got sacks. Then we blow one assignment, that’s a big play. We score a touchdown to take the lead 8-6, then we give up a kick return to the four-yard line. We just had too much of that… Not to take anything away from Riverside or Lincoln, the scores are misleading. We’re not 40 points worse than either of those teams,” Chantler said.
Auburn did get another score before the halftime horn. On its first drive of the second quarter Lucas Whitehall-Gilks broke away from the Lincoln defense for a 68-yard touchdown run.
The lone score in the second half came via Luvens Valcin once again. With just under two minutes left in the game, he caught a screen pass and torched the Lincold defense for a 60-yard score.
On that Trojan defense is one Lukens Valcin, the twin of Luvens who is one of the better perimeter corners in the NPSL. Receivers who Valcin (Lukens) covered were targeted just one time in the game, he broke up the completion. He also intercepted a tipped pass when Auburn needed a turnover. “It gave us a lot of boost,” Valcin said on his interception. “They had some great receivers but I stayed locked in,” Lukens said.
“When your twin brother is Luvens, it’s hard for you to come and make a name for yourself. He’s done a really good job over the last couple years. He’s a very solid corner, they weren’t really throwing his way… Lukens is really talented in his own right,” Chantler said.
Respectfully, Lukens gets overshadowed by Luvens. Both play basketball as well; Lukens is three inches shorter than his twin brother. But what he lacks in height, he makes up in effort and worth ethic.
“It just showed all the hard work paying off. I’m locked in every day, putting work everyday at practice for this moment right here,” Valcin said.
Chantler has been saying since the preseason that his side is sophomore heavy. But to have a chance to go to state, “If someone told us back in August that we’d go 7-3 and have a chance at a league title again. We would have signed up for that… We earned our ride here (playoffs) when nobody outside of our group really believed we would,” Chantler said.