Valencia football has always welcomed challenges of all kinds and this year is no different as the Vikings open up the 2019 football season on the road against Arcadia High School at 7 p.m. tonight.
The Vikings are coming off and undefeated Foothill League title for the 10th consecutive year under new direction from senior quarterback Ryan Morrison.
“At our scrimmage last week, it was kind of a big test to see where he was at, but he did really good and was very consistent throughout our fall camp and leading up to our first game,” said senior Hunter Koch.
Morrison will have some help in the backfield as two of the three leading rushers from last year’s title-winning team return in seniors Jake Santos and Nick Pham.
Pham carried the ball 73 times for 344 yards and two scores while Santos rushed the ball 65 times for 662 yards and eight touchdowns.
Outside, Morrison has the two returning receptions leaders in seniors Koch and Mitchell Torres who offer crisp route running and steady, strong hands.
Koch caught 23 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns and Torres pulled down 12 passes for 219 yards and a score.
“We are just letting him know that we have been through the offense and the plays last year,” Koch said. “We have a good chemistry so that obviously works and he’s really buying into the process.”
Arcadia’s returning varsity quarterback Dylan Guerra hits the gridiron hungry to finish out his senior year with a CIF title.
In his junior season, Guerra led the Apaches to an undefeated Pacific League title forcing the most points (332) while allowing the least points scored (106) in the league.
The Apaches’ season didn’t go as planned, falling in the CIF-Southern Sections Division 8 title game to Kaiser 38-35, and although senior-heavy last year, return key cogs from the CIF runner-up team.
Junior running back Chalchisa Chaffe returns after playing in just seven games last season rushing 20 times for 178 yards and four scores.
However, Arcadia does have the tricky task of replacing its top eight wide receivers who combined to catch 184 receptions for 3,134 yards and 35 of the 36 receiving touchdowns last season.
Senior Chris Wilson and junior Omar Lopez are the only two receivers that caught a pass last season. Wilson caught the other receiving touchdown.
“It’s going to be a niche team that we are going against because we don’t know that much about them, but I think that if we do all the little things right then big things will come,” Koch said. “We just have to play very detailed because we don’t know exactly what we are getting yet, but we are just going to play the way Valencia defense has preached in the past and that will be our foundation and try to make as many plays as we can and dominate.”
The Vikings will have their hands full with a talented Arcadia team and should have the tools to begin the season with a “W.”