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Valencia football: Yet another test

Vikings cap off tough preleague schedule with Loyola High

Posted: October 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia quarterback Sean Murphy dodges Santa Monica defenders in the third quarter of their game Sept. 30 at Valencia High School. Valencia will face Loyola tonight.

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There’s no doubting that Valencia football has played the toughest preleague schedule of all Foothill League teams thus far.

Now the Vikings get maybe their toughest opponent.

Valencia will play Loyola High of Los Angeles at Los Angeles Valley College tonight at 7 p.m.

Loyola comes into the game as the No. 13 team in the state, according to Calpreps.com.

“We’re trying to play some of the best teams around,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “Got to get ready for Foothill League. We knew we had a lot of young offensive skill guys. We have to try to get the most out of them we can.”

It’s those offensive skill guys who have taken the most heat for the Vikings’s 2-2 start thus far.

Sure, they haven’t put up very many points — 34 by the offense in four games, but Valencia did score its first second-half touchdown of the year in last Friday’s 17-0 win over Santa Monica.

Running back Cody Anciano rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season and quarterback Sean Murphy was mostly mistake free for three-plus quarters until a tipped pass was intercepted in the fourth quarter.

But the Vikings’ offense hasn’t faced a challenge like Loyola’s defense yet this season.

The Cubs’ secondary is stacked.

Senior Kodi Whitfield is committed to Stanford and Chaz Anderson is committed to Boise State.

Second-season Loyola head coach Michael Christensen said Eamon McOsker and Cameron Walker are NCAA Division I talents.

“I like our team a lot,” said Christensen on how he rates his team. “We have a lot of room to get better. We have good seniors and young talented guys. The culture is slowly changing.”

Loyola (4-1) had been recognized as a powerhouse for years, winning CIF titles in 2003 and 2005, but has been mediocre at best since.

Christensen has the Cubs poised to win the Serra League title this year with a well-balanced team on both sides of the ball.
On offense, Loyola has scored 141 points this season.

Senior quarterback Nicolas Cotton has been effective, not spectacular.

Running back Wyatt Bradford sat out last week’s 38-23 loss to state-ranked No. 7 Upland.

He rushed for 344 yards in the team’s first two games.

Junior Cameron Walker subbed last week and ran for 140 yards.

Christensen said his team’s biggest issue in last week’s loss was turnovers.

The Cubs turned the ball over three times last week. They hadn’t had any turnovers in their previous four games.

Santa Monica didn’t have any turnovers coming into last Friday’s meeting with Valencia, but the Vikings forced five turnovers in that game.

In fact, the Valencia defense has forced multiple turnovers in every game this season and as a unit is approaching 20 sacks.

“We have to be opportunistic,” Muir said. “If you can’t create big plays on offense all the time, you have to create some big plays on defense, and turnovers are a big part of that. Field position will be big for us. We need to play at a high level.”

Regardless of the result, especially if its a Vikings victory or a close game, Muir said he can go into the Foothill League satisfied.

In two losses, the Vikings have played the kind of football that would lead one to believe they are a contender for the Foothill League title.

“We’re OK,” Muir said. “We’re in a good spot when we hit league.”

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