You’d be hard-pressed to find many schools where a returning 1,600-yard rusher will be pressed as hard for carries as at Valencia High.
Moises Haynes grabbed the reins of the Vikings’ running back position early in 2016 and never handed them back.
He enters 2017 as the lead man in a talented, but crowded, backfield.
Junior Jayvaun Wilson has had a “terrific” camp, according to coach Larry Muir, and Valencia’s varsity has added junior transfer Luring Paialii, who averaged over 8 yards per carry at Alhambra High last year, and savvy sophomore Jake Santos.
At a practice last week, Valencia defensive end Ben Seymour might have best summed up the situation.
“Mo is really good, Jayvaun is really good, Lu looks really good,” he said. “We just have a lot of really good guys.”
Haynes, a senior, projects as the starter. And he’s worked hard to retain that title, going out for track and field in the spring to improve his speed.
At 207 pounds, he hopes to be a balanced back this year, possessing both agility and power in his quest to equal the 1,682 yards and 22 touchdowns he rushed for last season.
Then there’s Wilson. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound back rushed for 378 yards and eight touchdowns on 39 carries last year and, according to Muir, has looked more comfortable with the ball in his hands during fall camp.
“I think he’s garnered some time at running back because I think he has some really special talents in what he does,” Muir said.
Paialii, at 6-foot, 222 pounds, brings toughness and a downhill style to the position. Muir expects him to get more time in the backfield as he learns the nuances of the offense.
Paialii carried the ball 111 times for 912 yards and 12 touchdowns last year at Alhambra.
Santos will likely start at safety, but his ability to find running lanes may earn him some time on offense.
“In terms of vison and a gift for finding his way, he’s probably the most talented of those guys,” Muir said, adding at another time, “They’re all super talented.”
And, according to Haynes, they don’t begrudge each other.
“Honestly, it’s great,” Haynes said. “I’m used to me and Jayvaun. He’s a great person. I love him, he’s humble and he had a great season. .. He’s definitely going to be a great asset at running back, and we just know all three of us are talented, we all get reps, we stay humble and we just work.”
Valencia opens its season on Sept. 1 at Palmdale High.