Valley to rely on experience, running game

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020 | 10:26 PM


The Valley Vikings lacked experience last season, and it showed early.

They had a first-year starting quarterback, one returning starter on offense and four on defense, and they lacked strong line play. Despite their 1-9 record, the young team started to develop and learn from its mistakes as the season progressed.

They earned their win Sept. 13 over Imani Christian, 22-6, then they scored a season-high 28 points against Apollo-Ridge three weeks later, which was the third-highest total Apollo-Ridge allowed all season. The Vikings also scored two touchdowns in each of their final two games.

Senior running back Justin Hooper believes what they accomplished toward the end of last season will be a major factor in how they play this season.

“That will be very big for us this year,” Hooper said. “We pretty much have the same line this year, and they are just getting bigger and faster this season, so I think we’ll be able to score more touchdowns than last season.”

Unlike last year, the Vikings will have plenty of seniors. Venerable coach Muzzy Colosimo said he has 10 seniors, and they played a big role in offseason workouts.

Like always, teams can expect the Vikings to run the ball.

With Hooper returning to the backfield and senior Richard Miller and juniors Dario Wolfe and Tyreese Swindler returning up front, the Vikings could find success on the ground. But Colosimo believes they might be able to stretch the field, as well.

“We should be able to run the ball. We have three returning linemen, with Hooper and three fullbacks back,” Colosimo said. “Anybody that knows me knows that I want to run the ball, but we also have some nice outside receivers.”

Colosimo said senior tight end Elijah Murray will be a big piece of the passing game, and a few new athletes such as Addison Jackson and Thomas Albert will help stretch the field. The success of the passing game will fall on senior quarterback Cayden Quinn.

The 5-foot-8, 160-pounder struggled with turnovers in his first year as a starter, but Colosimo said Quinn has taken a few steps forward.

“It looks like his arm is stronger, and he realizes that he doesn’t need to throw if he doesn’t have to,” Colosimo said.

With a new sense of enthusiasm heading into this year and a wealth of experience from a year ago, the Vikings are hoping to move forward as a program.

“We’re pretty positive this year, after last year,” Murray said. “We were pretty young and had a few seniors, but everyone is feeling more experienced this year so we’re really looking forward to it.”

Schedule

Coach: Muzzy Colosimo

2019 record: 1-9, 0-6 in Class 2A Allegheny Conference

All-time record: 262-248-9

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, Burrell*, 7

9.18, at North Catholic*#, 7

9.25, Deer Lakes*, 7

10.2, at Freeport*, 7

10.9, Derry*, 7

10.16, at Yough, 7

10.23, at East Allegheny*, 7

*Class 3A Allegheny Conference game

#At Mars Athletic Complex

Statistical leaders

Passing: Cayden Quinn

Receiving: Vaun Ross*

Rushing: Justin Hooper

*Graduated

Fast facts

• The Vikings haven’t had a winning season since 2016 when they went 6-3 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2013.

Valley lost two games last year by a touchdown or less and led Freedom, 10-7, in the third quarter of their Sept. 27 matchup.

• Valley scored 13 offensive touchdowns last season.

• Since taking over in 2014, Muzzy Colosimo has gone 21-35 with the Vikings but hasn’t made the playoffs.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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