Valencia Vikings football delivered head coach Larry Muir his 150th win on Thursday night in a defensive battle against the Murrieta Mesa Rams at Canyon High School.
Valencia won the game, 20-14, holding the Rams (0-3) to just seven points in each half. The Viking defense shut down the Murrieta Mesa run game all night long, giving the offense an extra cushion.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle and we sputtered early,” Muir said in a phone interview. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot but I was proud of their effort in the second half.”
The Rams led Valencia (3-0) 7-3 at the halftime break. Mental mistakes and two turnovers in the red zone cost the Vikes points early but the team emerged from the locker room refocused and ready to strike.
“We just kept battling,” Muir said. “At some point it’s up to the players and it comes to execution, and just turning it up. And they did a good job making good things happen in the second half.”
Valencia quarterback Jackson Askins ran in both Vikings’ touchdowns on the night, his first rushing scores of the season.
The Viking defense kept its foot on the gas, highlighted by cornerback Jordan Cardenas. The senior came up with some clutch pass deflections and an interception.
“We just played really solid defense,” Muir said. “Our kids did a good job stuffing the run and our pass coverage has gotten a lot better. We didn’t allow any big plays. It was key that we didn’t let them run the ball on us.”
Muir took over the football program at Valencia in 2007. He led the Vikings to 11 consecutive Foothill League titles. For Muir, 150 wins is just a reflection of all the great players, coaches, parents and staff of everyone who has helped push the Valencia football program further.
“It’s a reflection of so many talented players who have poured in blood, sweat and tears over the years,” Muir said. “It’s a reflection of everyone who has helped build this program all over the years.”
The Vikings will have one more road test in their preseason before heading into league action, a matchup with the Rancho Cucamonga Cougars (3-0).
Valencia has dropped two straight to the Cougars over the past couple of seasons.
The Vikings will aim to hand the San Bernardino powerhouse its first loss of the season on Friday at Rancho Cucamonga High School at 7 p.m.