The Valencia Vikings are coming off one of the biggest wins in program history, coming from a 27-0 deficit in the third quarter to beat the Hart Indians 28-27 to win their sixth consecutive league championship.
Now the Vikings will host Rancho Cucamonga, a 6-4 team that finished third in the Baseline League, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section West Valley Division playoffs.
Game time is 7:30 Friday at Dr. Paul Priesz Stadium.
The Cougars are ranked 67th in the state, averaging 27.3 points per game while allowing 24.3. Their offense averages 358.4 yards of offense, with 143.8 on the ground and 214.6 through the air.
Angel Matute is a 6-foot-4 junior quarterback who has completed 59% of his passes for 2,145 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. In a 42-41 thrilling win for the Cougars, Matute completed 23-of-39 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns.
The rushing attack is led by 5-8, 170-pound junior Aaron Manning, who has 655 yards and eight touchdowns.
Defensively the Cougars are best described as average. Leading tackler Israel Fonua has 65 tackles in nine games, and nine of those have been for losses. The unit has also recorded 21 sacks, eight interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
By comparison, the Vikings defense has produced 20 sacks, nine interceptions and just one fumble recovery. Returning all-league linebacker Sean Teems leads the team with 87 tackles in ten games.
So the two defenses are relatively similar.
The difference of course is the Vikings’s offense.
Valencia, ranked 43rd in the state, scores an average of 40.5 points per game and racks up 430.2 yards of total offense (246.2 passing, 184.0 rushing).
Junior quarterback Cole Parkinson has completed 65% of his passes for 2,398 yards, 24 touchdowns against just four interceptions.
His favorite target is the highly recruited Jay Jay Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound wide out/running back/defensive terror. Wilson has caught 46 passes for 869 yards and nine touchdowns. In the Foothill League championship game alone, Wilson caught two TD passes, ran in another and made the key interception at the goal line to preserve the Vikings championship.
Add the emergence of Brad Prizer as another receiving threat (36 receptions for 599 yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns), and Parkinson has choices.
Wilson, Stone Jackson and Mathew Pham have combined for 1,350 yards rushing, all with uniquely different styles.
Valencia’s offensive line has protected Parkinson well. In four of the five league games (Hart did not report game stats), Parkinson was sacked six times, an average of 1.5 per game.
As long as Parkinson has time to make choices, the Vikings offense should be the difference in this game.