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Can’t doubt defending champion Valencia

Vikings aren’t ready to surrender the crown

Posted: August 29, 2013 10:06 p.m.
Updated: August 29, 2013 10:06 p.m.

(Left to right) Valencia wide receiver Malik Townsend, quarterback Jake Wallace, receivers Jay Jay Wilson and Nick Jones and defensive back Spencer Hixon will try to lead the Vikings to a fifth straight Foothill League championship. Valencia has been to four of the last five CIF-SS Northern Division semifinals.

For the previews on the rest of the Foothill League, as well as playe and coach polls, predictions, schedules and more, pick up a copy of Friday's edition of The Signal Newspaper.

Doubt Valencia.

Just doubt it.

Because when you and you and you do, the Vikings do something like they did last season and three seasons before that — win Foothill League championships.

“I think there’s a point of pride (in winning the last four titles),” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “Whoever’s going to get it, we’ve got to say something about it. I’m not saying we’re going to win it or anything like that. But I got to believe our kids believe we’re going to have something to say about it. You can’t ignore us. And if you ignore us, you’re going to pay the price.”

There are an awful lot of people who think Valencia will not win its fifth straight crown — the longest since Hart’s run of 12 straight titles from 1992 to 2003.

The reason being it’s not so much what Valencia has, but what others, specifically Hart, have.

There are two main pieces missing from last season’s team — quarterback Sean Murphy, the All-SCV and Foothill League player of the year, and safety Tedric Thompson, now at the University of Colorado.

Yes the secondary is pretty new and the offensive line will be entirely new, but Valencia’s skill players make up arguably the best group the school has ever had.

On the ends, Nick Jones (6 feet, 2 inches, 180 pounds) and Jay Jay Wilson (6-2, 225) make up a physical tandem each with great hands.

Jones was the 2013 Foothill League 400-meter champion in track and field.

Inside at the slot, Malik Townsend is arguably the shiftiest receiver in the league and Ethan Yoo at the other slot grew leaps and bounds, shifting from quarterback to wide receiver last season.

The quartet combined for 166 catches for 3,186 yards and 28 touchdowns.

“This skill group is as good of a skill group as we’ve had here,” Muir said. “Our two wideouts are as dangerous a combo as I’ve seen. Then you add Malik, an All-CIF type guy, there are three who are phenomenal.”

We’re in the 14th paragraph and finally get to the quarterback.

That kind of says something.

For the last decade, Valencia quarterbacks could argue that they have been the most successful in the SCV — and they have all been different.

Dropback passers, mobile quarterbacks, combinations of both.

Right now Jake Wallace is the team’s starter.

The senior is in the Murphy mold of being a combo passer and he got playing time in goal-line situations last season.

But Cole Parkinson, a 6-foot-2-inch sophomore and son of former Canyon All-CIF lineman Brent Parkinson, is lying in wait.

Competition between the two this summer was neck and neck and Muir expects really big things from Parkinson down the road.

But Wallace has the experience, which gives him the early edge.

Stone Jackson benefits from a year of varsity experience at the running back position and is expected to earn far more than the 403 yards he rushed for last season as a sophomore.

Valencia’s biggest question mark is its offensive line, which is made up of five players who have no varsity experience at their positions.

Muir said they have to be good, not great, in order for this team to succeed.

Question mark No. 2 is the defensive secondary.

Three of four players graduated, leaving veteran Spencer Hixon at one cornerback.

One solution was putting Wilson at free safety, which is bad news for Foothill teams.

The big junior plays with the sort of physicality and hunger for hitting that should prove to be intimidating.

Valencia has another hitter at linebacker in Alex Tapia, and Justin Son adds even more experience at linebacker.

The Vikings are extremely strong on the defensive ends with active Jordan Nguyen and big Josh Stanton, who has two NCAA FBS offers thus far.

Vikings defensive coordinator Robert Waters said the difference between this defense and last year’s, which allowed 21.8 points per game, is speed.

“We’re more flexible in terms of what we can do,” Waters said. “It’s what you want. Speed kills. Right?”

So does a kicker who booted a 52-yard field goal last season and is an NCAA Division I prospect.

Senior Cole Murphy is a weapon no other SCV team has because of his ability to pin teams back on the kickoff.

With that said, Valencia is a pretty complete team and a sure playoff team at that.

Which presents the next issue — the dreaded label of being the team that wins the big one, but not the biggest one.

Valencia has been to four of the last five Northern Division semifinal games and has lost every one of them.

The common thread in most of those games is that Valencia has lost to physical teams with balanced offenses.

The playoffs are way in the distance, but don’t think these Vikings aren’t aware of their label.


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