Valencia football’s defensive line means business.
Nose guard Josh Washington and defensive ends Josh DeNeal and Ben Seymour have been playing on the line together since last season, and the whole has become greater than the sum of its parts.
“We’re a pretty good group,” Seymour said. “We’re always correcting each other, we’re always holding each other accountable, like making sure we’re doing our best to contribute for the defense.”
A fairly quiet group, the trio is part of a defense that held each Foothill League team to two touchdowns or less this season.
Each of them also ranks in the top five on the team in terms of tackles: DeNeal holds the No. 1 spot with 25 tackles, Seymour is second with 23 and Washington is fifth with 13.
Steve Miller, who has been a d-line coach at Valencia for 25 years, said that this year’s line is the best he’s ever coached.
“They’re smart, they’re focused, they’re dialed in in terms of the task at hand,” Miller said. “They won’t say it to you, but they’re all really smart and all attention to detail. So it’s a pretty fun group because when you tell somebody to do something, it’s done.”
In Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 semifinal game against Heritage, the Vikings switched to a four-man defensive line and added Kyle Williams to the group.
Valencia executed the new system flawlessly.
“It felt normal because he’s worked hard for the last two years and it kind of felt that he knew exactly what he was doing with coming in behind one of us if we fall down,” DeNeal said. “So I think it felt normal and he did a really good job last week.”
Also working as an advantage for the Vikings is the fact that there are no two-way starters between the offensive and defensive lines.
As the o-line of Cole Edwards, Justin Aguirre, Tanner Miller, Cody Paul and Parker Kernek take to the field, DeNeal, Washington and Seymour take to the bench for film.
“When they come off the field, we’re doing video with them,” said Miller. “A touchdown and we’re back out there and we’re dialed in in the sense of what we’ve got going on and it goes along with the most underrated asset we have on this team. Our o-line is really good.
While the defensive line has always excelled at stopping the run throughout league and preleague, it had to up its game when playoffs came around. The defense has allowed an average of 30 points in Valencia’s three postseason games, a slight change from league play.
“We saw that they were faster teams. They’re bigger teams,” Washington said.
“We had to up our speed and our physicality and just match and get like, raise our level of competition for playoffs.”
With a tough Oaks Christian team slated for Friday night’s CIF-SS championship game, Valencia knows it can count on its d-line to take care of business.