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November 10, 2009

Teams take unique routes to clinch their playoff berths

By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

As he was mobbed by classmates pouring out of the stands following Gonzaga's 35-34 victory over St. John's, Eagles senior James Valeiras looked around the field at Blair on Saturday and couldn't picture a more perfect way to clinch Gonzaga's first playoff spot in four years.

"This game means so much to this team, this program," said Valeiras, who returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and also brought a fumble back 87 yards for the decisive score with two minutes left. "To beat St. John's on the last play to get into the playoffs, you can't imagine, as a senior, ending it like that."

While the playoffs might officially begin this week across the area, some teams were in postseason mode last weekend, needing a victory for a chance to keep playing. Gonzaga was one of those teams, beating rival St. John's for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference's fourth and final berth.

In Maryland, Springbrook and Whitman each needed a victory to get in, and they came through. The Blue Devils beat Paint Branch, 20-0, while Whitman rallied to beat rival Churchill, 28-24, and thwart the Bulldogs' playoff hopes.

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