By DAN ARRITT
FOR THE REGISTER
PLACENTIA The season opener for Valencia didn´t progress without a few difficulties. The Tigers struggled with the officiating Friday night and had their own hiccups on offense, but in the end the running of Will Van Dam and Tom Torres proved too much for Brea Olinda.
Van Dam rushed for 140 yards on 13 carries and Torres finished with 136 yards on 16 carries as Valencia galloped to a 22-7 nonleague victory at Valencia High.
"I thought we were very sloppy at times," Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said. "When we were efficient, we moved the ball well."
The Tigers got off to a fine start, forcing Brea Olinda to punt after three plays and then needing six plays of their own to reach the end zone. Torres, the team´s third-leading rusher last season, finished off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run up the middle.
The Tigers then set up for the extra-point try, but holder Pat Godoy had trouble handling the snap. Instead, he picked up the loose ball and raced around the right side and into the end zone for a two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Brea Olinda marched inside the Valencia 10-yard line on its next series, but missed a 27-yard field-goal attempt. The Tigers then took advantage of a defensive pass interference penalty on third and long, capitalizing when Van Dam broke loose on a 58-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds left in the first quarter.
Valencia fumbled away another scoring chance inside the Brea Olinda 5-yard line, and the Wildcats then took advantage of four penalties on the next possession. Marrujo called timeout during the drive to settle his team, but the Wildcats eventually scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by Billy Hanley to cut the deficit to 15-7 with 51 seconds left in the first half.
"These new rules, it´s hard," Marrujo said. "Anything where your helmet´s in there, some (referees) call it real close and others don´t."
The Tigers put together their third scoring drive midway through the third quarter, taking a 22-7 lead on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Godoy to Jake Watkins.