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Valencia football focusing on the present

Vikings go for first CIF football title in school history

Posted: December 5, 2013 6:55 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2013 6:55 p.m.

The Signal previews Friday night's CIF championship game between Valencia and Hart from Valencia's perspective.

 

History is great and all, and there’s a lot between Valencia and Hart.

But the present is all that matters in this CIF-Southern Section Northern Division championship game between two Foothill League rivals tonight at Valencia High.

Yes, Valencia upset Hart on Nov. 1 24-19 and went on to win the Foothill League title.

Does that game matter?

“As far as we’re concerned, that game has no meaning on this game,” said Valencia wide receiver Nick Jones.

In the present, Valencia (11-2) is a team with momentum coming off its best defensive performance of the year — a 45-8 pounding of Saugus in last Friday’s semifinal.

Saugus managed just 7 total yards in the first half, didn’t have a first down until very late in the second quarter and tallied 142 total yards in the game.

But it did come at an expense.

Valencia’s most physical defender Jay Jay Wilson is suspended for this game after he was penalized for a “targeting” hit.

What Valencia misses is his defensive presence against a dynamic group of Hart wide receivers — likely future NCAA Division I junior receiver Trent Irwin, Duke-bound Davis Koppenhaver and Wes Fitzpatrick and his 49 catches.

The Vikings also miss a guy who is one of quarterback Jake Wallace’s top targets and a guy who lined up at running back in the last meeting with Hart and ran the ball 23 times for 135 yards.

Valencia head coach Larry Muir downplays his absence.

“He’s a very big impact player. Hopefully the effect will be minimal,” Muir said. “If the other guys step up, we’ll be fine.”

Junior Joseph Ordaz will slide into the safety position, and Muir said he’s been very effective there.

Junior Brad Prizer, with all of two catches this season, will fill in at wide receiver.

Muir said Wilson moved the chains on offense in the last game, but it was big plays that were the difference.

Jones is that big-play guy on the offense with his size, speed and breakaway ability from the wide receiver position.

Jones has 16 touchdowns this season.

Running back Stone Jackson had an 80-yard touchdown against Saugus.

Plus the Vikings could lean on slot receiver Malik Townsend and his quickness.

Wallace has been good at buying time this season, and it’s a major reason why he’s the Southern Section’s second-leading passer.

But in order for Valencia to be successful in this game, it might have to duplicate its performance from the last game when the defense sacked the Southern Section’s leading passer Brady White nine times.

Valencia’s defensive front, led by Jourdan Nguyen and Justin Son, and anchored by linebacker Alex Tapia, whose interception in the last meeting led to a Valencia score, should be a major factor in this game.

Hart (11-2) has added punch this time around with a healthy Connor Wingenroth, who in the playoffs has rushed the ball 58 times for 731 yards.

Wingenroth was still recovering from a separated shoulder in the previous matchup and managed just 21 rushing yards.

Another factor in this game is special teams, especially with two teams so even.

As mentioned last week in the Valencia-Saugus preview, senior Cole Murphy has the best leg in the area but has missed his share of extra point attempts over the year, including one last week.

The Vikings can’t afford to miss any against Hart.

Now we can finish with history.

Valencia and Hart have had some of the biggest games in the Santa Clarita Valley since 2004 when the Vikings snapped Hart’s 65-game Foothill League winning streak.

No game meant more than this one, though.

This is how bad the Vikings want it:

“They’ll have to pry it from my dying hand,” Jones said. 

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