Valencia football’s preleague slate culminates tonight with perhaps the most anticipated opponent of the season: Calabasas.
The Coyotes have consistently matched up well with the Vikings, with Calabasas winning 2017 season’s game 65-63 and the 2016 game 37-21. Tonight, Valencia will have the opportunity to change the pattern of the past two years.
“I was there for last year’s game,” said receiver Cade Erickson. “I didn’t play, I was just on the sidelines, but I just think a win would just shove it back in their face.”
There’s no shortage of offensive power for the Coyotes (3-1), with quarterback Jaden Casey entering the game 72-of-114 passing so far this season with 1,113 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.
One of Casey’s primary targets at receiver is Jermaine Burton, who caught five passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over La Habra. The other is Mycah Pittman, an Oregon commit who has logged 286 yards and two touchdowns on 26 catches on the season as a whole.
“As a quarterback, being able to watch Jaden and the things he does, he’s a very talented guy and has a talented group around him and that helps him out a ton,” said Vikes quarterback Davis Cop. “Fast receivers, big receivers that create separation.”
While Valencia’s stable of running backs has been slightly depleted with injuries to Jayvaun Wilson, Jake Santos and Luring Paialii, the Vikings (2-2 overall) still have potential in Nick Pham and Aidan Baptiste.
In the Vikings’ most recent win, a 17-7 victory over Loyola, Pham rushed for 95 yards on 13 carries. Baptiste played in his first game of the season against Loyola and picked up 27 yards on eight carries.
“I think they’ve really filled the spot nice with Santos being out,” Erickson said. “It’s nice being a receiver and knowing that the running backs are able to take the load and help out with things.”
Erickson himself has 153 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches, which ranks him third on the team in terms of receiving yardage behind Jaden Holmes (174 yards) and Hunter Koch (210 yards).
Valencia’s offense will have to deal with a tough Coyote defense, but many Vikings believe they can outmatch them in terms of physicality.
“They’re really aggressive to the ball and they fly around,” Erickson said. “I don’t think they’re as physical as us. Our coaches preached all week about how we’re more physical and we can dominate up front and push and run the ball a lot.”
Valencia hosts Calabasas at 7 p.m. tonight.