Valencia High studied Newbury Park quarterback Cameron Rising, a University of Oklahoma commit, all week.
So when the Vikings didn’t see him on the field before their 56-35 win over the Panthers on Friday night, it was quite a surprise.
“Nobody knew anything until game time,” said Valencia coach Larry Muir. “Right when the game started, he wasn’t out there for warmups. We didn’t know. We had no idea.
“We just rolled with it. We kept the same game plan. Everything was in place.”
One element that remained the same for Valencia against Newbury Park (3-1) was running back Moises Haynes, who had three touchdowns. He proved his versatility in both the run game and the passing game.
Haynes finished the evening with 186 yards on 26 carries and four catches for 47 yards.
“He’s like a bulldozer,” Muir said. “But at the same time, he’s got some speed, too. He’s a great back. And he’s only going to get better. He’ll get better and better as the year goes on.”
Rising’s absence gave way to offensive mistakes ripe for the Vikings (2-1) defense to capitalize on. In the first half, Ryan Haith and Mykael Wright each had an interception. Both picks resulted in touchdowns on the ensuing drives.
“He’s a great player,” Haynes, whose secondary position is linebacker, said of Haith. “I have so much respect for him defensively. He always locks down and he’s a great player and I respect him with all my heart.”
On their first drive out of halftime, Panthers quarterback Braden Handy completed passes to four different receivers.
But Valencia’s Joshua DeNeal recovered a Newbury Park fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, putting the Vikings ahead 35-7 and taking some air out of the Panthers’ sails.
“We play so many good teams on our schedule that any time you have an opportunity, you’ve got to capitalize. You’ve got to take advantage of it,” Muir said.
Haith intercepted another pass halfway through the third quarter, which, like his first interception, led to a touchdown.
However, the Vikes allowed three fourth quarter touchdowns while only scoring one themselves, making the finish a little more interesting than it should have been.
“Offensively and defensively, we weren’t executing,” Haynes said. “We kept making mistakes, and they capitalized on our mistakes.”
Valencia is on the road next week against Bakersfield.