Valencia High only needs one more win to secure at least a share of an eighth consecutive Foothill League title.
Two wins would guarantee an outright crown.
However, coach Larry Muir is urging his team to keep sharp in the games that lie ahead and not get too far ahead of itself.
“The Foothill League title is still on the table and for us, we always talk about going 1-0 every week and that’s regardless of who we’re playing,” said Muir. “All our focus and concentration is on West Ranch.”
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The Vikings (6-2 overall, 3-0 in league) came into this season strong and have only gotten stronger as the year progressed.
The latter can be said of the Wildcats (4-4, 1-2). They were the league’s underdogs, but have proven there is more to them than the past seasons’ results.
“This has been a very interesting season in terms of getting things going,” said coach Chris Varner. “We can always get better or at least try and get into the playoffs.”
The Cats could be looking at their first playoff berth since 2010.
“It would be tremendous in terms of what I’ve been trying to build,” Varner said. “I think if we can make it in there, we have a good chance considering the other teams in the division.”
One of West Ranch’s strengths has been popping off big plays when the opposition is least expecting it. Consistency is key for the Vikes.
“It’s been known that for us this year … putting it together for all four quarters has been somewhat of an issue,” said Valencia defensive coordinator Rob Waters. “That’s still a main focus for us and to make sure we’re being consistent with us.”
Waters said they’re keeping a close eye on steamroller running back Jake Rice, quarterback Wyatt Eget, who can run if needed, and the offensive line.
“I think their offense line has a phenomenal line surge,” Waters said. “They get off the line and they get a push. Anytime the line is like that, the defense has to counter that.”
Valencia’s ground game triad of Moises Haynes, Jayvaun Wilson and Effie Davalos collectively has 1,239 rushing yards this season. And Muir knows the backs’ success can only help quarterback Aaron Thomas.
“We’ve got to be able to establish the run,” he said. “That’s one of the things we could’ve done better last week. That helps the passing game and opens some things up in the passing game.”