A 10-0 football season speaks for itself at any level. Valencia junior varsity football achieved that mark this season for the first time in six years.
Tons of future varsity stars engulfed the Vikings’ roster and kept practices competitive.
One of the reasons for Valencia’s success was freshman quarterback Brady Bretthauer. The freshman was a blessing out of nowhere for head coach Curt White as Bretthauer was unsure of his high school destination until about a month before the season began.
Bretthauer didn’t know much about the Viking football program and chose the school over private schools interested in him, simply because his childhood friends were going to Valencia.
The freshman quarterback delivered all year and finished the season with 1,959 passing yards on a 61.54% completion rate along with 37 total touchdowns and just one interception.
Bretthauer aside, White began the year with optimism that the team would have success. The coaching staff expected a good number of returners who showed a lot of promise last season.
“We kind of knew coming in that we had a good nucleus of players returning,” said White. “We had freshmen and sophomores. We had talented freshmen from last year that didn’t see a lot of playing time but had potential and talent.”
Going undefeated wasn’t really on the coach’s mind, especially with a week one matchup with one of the best football programs in the state at Bishop Amat.
Valencia would battle and take down the hosting Lancers 23-20.
“We knew we had talent but you never know,” said White. “When your first game out of the gate is Bishop Amat, you really don’t know where you stand. To win that game really catapulted us and the team just kept getting better and better. As we progressed through the season it started to become a reality that we could go 10-0.”
The tough non-league matchups wouldn’t stop there and neither did the winning. The Vikings blasted Quartz Hill, 40-16, before taking down Notre Dame, 47-6. Valencia would get its last tight game of the year in its preseason finale. The team bested Rancho Cucamonga 24-14 to finish non-league play 4-0.
10-0 was officially on everyone’s minds after finishing the preseason unscathed, beating who they beat. The team knew Foothill League is never a walk in the park and kept putting in the work to improve.
“They came to work every day,” said White. “There was a lot of camaraderie, good bond but when it was time to work they went to work. We had really good leadership on the team.”
Bretthauer had weapons all over the offense but gives the most credit to his offensive line.
“I want to make it clear, none of this would be possible without my O-Line,” said Bretthauer. “It was an incredible year. It started out rough but they got better and better every game. They were a big part of us scoring over 40 a game.”
The Vikings ran wild through league play, winning every game by 23 or more points.
“This is the most dominant team I’ve ever had,” said White. “I’ve been coaching JV for 17 years. I’ve had an undefeated season in the past but this team was clearly more dominant than that team was. We got lucky that we had so much talent.”
At 9-0, White told his eager team to do what they had to do and enjoy the potential undefeated season. The coach ensured his players that finishing a perfect season could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as they could continue on to play in varsity or college and may not achieve this mark again.
Valencia went out with a bang, registering its highest scoring output of the season with a 63-14 win over Canyon.
The offense completed the year averaging more than 40 points a game. Bretthauer’s attack through the air was matched on the ground with tough Viking running backs. The Valencia offense displayed a near-perfect balance, totaling up 2,008 passing yards and 2,029 yards on the ground.
Brian Bonner led the team with 662 rushing yards on 9.46 yards per carry with nine total touchdowns.
The defense was just as sensational and held opponents to just 12 points a game. The group was led by captain, linebacker Luke Alano. The defensive captain racked up 98 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, six sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Sophomore Elias Willis was a two-way force for Valencia. On offense, Willis led the team with 27 catches for 532 receiving yards and 11 TDs. On defense, the outside linebacker totaled 37 tackles, 12 for a loss, with seven quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles.
“During the Saugus game, when nothing was working, I knew I could put the ball in [Willis’] hands and something would happen,” said Bretthauer.
Sophomores Nick Seymour and Ronald Bruner were also captains and two-way standouts. Seymour was a consistent threat in the slot while serving as another anchor as a safety. Bruner also played safety, spent time at wideout and was able to score the second-longest play of the year on a 73-yard TD pass from Bretthauer.
Wide receiver Isaac Shin and his quarterback registered the longest play of the year as the two connected on a 77-yard touchdown strike. Shin finished the year with 22 catches for 416 yards and seven TDs.
The team had talent and athleticism at every position but White was most pleased with his team’s camaraderie.
“The team bonded, they were close,” said White. “There were no cliques. They were able to come together and play for each other. You can have all the talent but you just have individuals who aren’t willing to play as a team, you might not have the same results.”
Bretthauer had the perfect storm of coaches, citing White as the perfect director over everything while believing coach Dustin Cuyler was the best play caller.
“Coach White, he was the guy that got film every time during lunch, ran our lifts, he was our defensive coordinator and ran our conditioning,” said Bretthauer. “He kept our mindset right. I don’t think there was a time football wasn’t on his mind. And coach Cuyler, he was the genius behind everything. I don’t know how he did it but he always knew what to call.”
Bretthauer shouted out every coach by name knowing every member of White’s coaching staff poured their hearts into this season.
Vikings’ varsity football will have some holes next year as the program will graduate some key players. The JV standouts may be up next to push Valencia back on top of the Foothill League but the sky’s the limit for the young talented Vikings and they know it.
“I’m excited to say the least,” said Bretthauer. “Maybe not so much next year but my junior year or senior year, I think we’ll have the potential to be a CIF or state-winning team.”