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It Takes Two

Canyon, Valencia linebackers primed for 2008 Foothill League season

Posted: October 16, 2008 9:11 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Andrew LaVoise of Valencia High and Canyon's Nate Marroquin are linebackers for their respective squads. Both teams face off tonight in the Foothill League kickoff at Canyon.

 

There appears to be a new rivalry brewing. Two cross-town teams on a mission for the crown.
The Foothill League crown, that is.

When the football teams from Valencia and Canyon high schools take the field tonight in their league opener, the stars will be in alignment.

Except these stars aren't gigantic balls of hydrogen gas. Rather, they come in the form of two staunch linebackers.

Cowboys middle linebacker Nate Marroquin and the Vikings' Drew LaVoise have been at the core of their respective teams' defensive backfields.

With both squads' offensive weapons taking center stage every Friday night under the lights, these two players get their jobs done - minus the glory.

But being at the helm of the defense wasn't always the case for these two.

Marroquin did not play a single down last season for Canyon. However, this season, through hard work in the spring, the 5-foot-9 linebacker has been a force for the Cowboys.

"He is one of the hardest working players," said Canyon head coach Chris Varner. "He really maintains a positive attitude throughout practice and sets a good example for his teammates. He is a standout defensively because he really is a great field general. He understands what I want from the defense and can get his teammates to do it."

So far this season, Marroquin has accumulated 20 tackles along with two sacks and is on every one of Canyon's special teams. He said the biggest difference this year is that he realizes this will be his last chance to make an impression on the field.

"It's my senior year, and I don't want it to go to waste," he said. "It's my time to shine."

Marroquin wants more than anything to capture the league title in his last year wearing the Cowboys' No. 33 jersey.

Missing the playoffs last season is still fresh in Marroquin's mind. He said it's a significant factor in motivating the team to work hard.

"This season started last December, and we've been working to playoffs ever since," he said.

Marroquin also credits Canyon's sideline general for the team's success as well as his own.

"I look up to Varner because he motivates us," he said. "He tells us the truth and doesn't lie to us. He tells us what we have to do to win. He's straight forward, and I like that."

Overall, the biggest change in this season's team, according to Marroquin, is the camaraderie.

"We're all friends," he said. "We have to be able to motivate each other."

Valencia's LaVoise rallied back after offseason shoulder surgery to repair an injury he sustained in a 2007 matchup with West Ranch. He played through the pain and in February was on an operating table to repair a torn labrum.

LaVoise has accumulated 47 total tackles so far this season. Vikings head coach Larry Muir said the 185-pound linebacker is having a terrific year.

"He's had to overcome a lot to get where he is today," Muir said. "His experience, his work ethic and the fact he's such a great instinctual player makes him the leader of our defense."

And the 5-foot-10 senior is very comfortable in his role as a leader.

"I want to leave an impression for the younger guys to work hard and keep working to get better for next year," LaVoise said.

Muir said LaVoise makes all the calls for the Vikings defense, studies game film and is devoted to his craft.

"He's as prepared every week as any player we have had. He's a tremendous student, great character, all the qualities you look for in a leader."

LaVoise said he has a clearer view of the big picture and knows what he has to do to prepare for every game. He credits Muir with being his biggest motivator.

"Muir never lets us be satisfied," LaVoise said. "He pushes for perfection and for us to get better. He never backs down with the intensity. We want to play for him."

Even amongst a bevy of juniors leading the Vikings lineup, LaVoise said the team is well adept on the field.

"The work ethic has picked up," he said. "We have more talent at positions, and we're a good team. We just have to take it one game at a time and work hard every week."

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