Thrill-seeking receivers help shape Valencia football’s offense

Valencia receiver Zach Semko makes a catch at practice at Valencia High School on Wednesday. Haley Sawyer/The Signal
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Whenever Valencia football’s Kyle Quintal and Zach Semko are together, things can get a little crazy.

The two, who can usually be found with receiver Zion Dunson and quarterback Connor Downs, like to jump off of cliffs in Malibu or have near-drowning tubing experiences at June Lake in Mammoth.

“I don’t know how none of us have really gotten seriously injured with all the crazy stuff we do,” Quintal said.

Quintal and Semko’s thrill-seeking personalities translate onto the field. The two are the most physical slot receivers that the Vikings have to offer.

For example, each time a Valencia player records a pancake block, they receive a sticker for their helmet with a pancake illustration on it. Semko’s sticker-count rivals some of the linemen on the team.

“He just goes,” said receivers coach Matt Nyberg. “Same with KQ. And they take pride in every piece of being a receiver, not just catching the ball but running the routes on the backside and being able to block if it’s a running play or if somebody else catches the ball. They’re working downfield to go block as well.”

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Quintal and Semko both rotated in at receiver last season but didn’t garner an excessive amount of playing time.

This year, Quintal secured a starting role early, while Semko took on the job of H-back, a position he still plays at times.

Playing at H-back nurtured his hard-nosed physicality, which in turn gave him an advantage when he made the switch to receiver. He only progressed further after making the change.

“At the beginning of the season, personally, I was more of a blocking guy and all that,” Semko said. “But I believe as the season went on, I progressed into a good route runner and I think I’ve become a better route runner as well.”

Quintal has 489 yards and two touchdowns on 22 catches, while Semko has 378 yards and five TDs on 24 receptions.

The duo doesn’t always share the spotlight with Mykael Wright and Jayvaun Wilson’s acrobatic touchdown receptions, but they’re always willing to do the dirty work to get the Vikings the yardage they need.

“I’ve kind of had like an unselfish role because I haven’t really gotten a lot of touchdowns or anything, but I’ve (been) working for other people, getting other people open,” said Quintal. “And I kind of have a bigger part but kind of a smaller part at the same time.

“We just like, put our bodies on the line for the other people.”

And that’s one of the biggest thrills Quintal and Semko can experience.

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