BY TIM TUTTLE
CONTRIBUTING WRITER YORBA LINDA OCRegister
Tyler Switzer threw four touchdown passes, and Jahquon Speed broke loose for a 36-yard touchdown run to lead Valencia to a 41-7 season-opening nonleague victory over Yorba Linda on the Mustangs’ field Friday.
Switzer connected with Jacob Briggs for scoring passes of 40 and 68 yards and with Chach Ben-Yisriael for 17 and 11. The 6-foot, 170-pound senior completed 10 of 14 passes for 184 yards and didn’t have an interception. He also had 51 yards rushing on four carries. Briggs, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior, had six receptions for 149 yards, and Ben-Yisrael had three catches for 29 yards. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Speed had 65 yards on 10 carries. Darren Sandoval added 37 yards on 10 carries.
Valencia’s defense limited Yorba Linda (0-1) to 109 yards rushing and 40 passing. The Mustangs’ Mason Winter, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound junior, rushed for 133 yards on 28 carries including a 14-yard touchdown with 36 seconds to play. Yorba Linda quarterback Kamren Freck was sacked by outside linebacker Alec Sweet and outside linebacker Jason McHale. Freck completed 5 of 15 passes for 40 yards and had one intercepted.
Yorba Linda reached the Valencia 27-yard line in the first quarter, but Freck was intercepted by Mason Paine in the end zone.
The Tigers (1-0) put together an 80-yard, 12-play drive on the ensuing possession. Valencia faced a fourthand-1at its 41, and Coach Mike Marrujo decided to run out of punt formation. McHale gained 4 yards for the first down.
The Tigers reached the Yorba Linda 40 four plays later and Switzer hit Briggs, who dashed through the Mustangs’ secondary for a 40-yard touchdown with 53.1seconds left in the first period. Switzer ran 38 yards to open Valencia’s 80-yard drive on its opening possession of the second period. Three plays later, Speed broke a couple of tackles to get into the secondary and ran past defenders for a 36-yard touchdown for a 13-0 lead with 8:43 left in the first half.
Valencia increased its lead to 20-0 at the half on Switzer’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Ben-Yisrael on a slant pass with 3:38 remaining. It was the concluding play of a 56-yard, nineplay match. Switzer found Briggs wide open behind the defense and hit him for a 68-yard touchdown with 5:41left in the third for a 27-0 Valencia lead.
[ Valencia - Yorba Linda] Photo Gallery
RIAN WHITEHEAD, STAFF
BY BRIAN WHITEHEAD/STAFF WRITER OCRegister
Empire League Football sage Mike Marrujo begins his 35th season at Valencia with 294 wins, trailing only Los Alamitos' John Barnes and Mission Viejo's Bob Johnson in the Cal-Hi Sports state record book. Valencia's averaged eight wins per year the past three seasons, meaning Marrujo should join Barnes and Johnson in the 300-win club sometime next month.
Mike Marrujo never stands still for more than a few seconds at a time.
It’s Tuesday afternoon, three days before Valencia High’s 2015 season opener, and the longtime football coach will not stop moving. One minute, he’s behind the secondary; the next, he’s near the line of scrimmage, clipboard in hand, eyes somehow fixed on 22 kids at one time. He’ll later throw fade routes to receivers in the end zone, simulate pre-snap motion during offensive drills and demonstrate correct blocking technique. Menial as his job seems at times, Marrujo could easily be mistaken for a first-year assistant; coaching legends just don’t lose sleep over field goal formations and agility drills. But if Marrujo’s learned anything over the years, it’s that no detail is too small to overlook. His fingerprints are all over Valencia’s football program as a result, just how he likes it. “I’ve been coaching my whole life,” he told OCVarsity’s Steve Fryer in 2013. “I love being out there.”
At this rate, Marrujo may never stop coaching. Now in his 35th year at Valencia, Orange County’s third-winningest active coach looks as young as ever, even with Ray Ban sunglasses older than his athletes and a whistle he’s been blowing since the Reagan administration. Never mind the year, to Marrujo, football never gets old. “I love Coach,” said returning running back Darren Sandoval, a senior and third-year letter winner. “He’s a great coach, the kind of coach that makes you want to try everything harder and harder.”
Marrujo doesn’t need a big game to appreciate the little things. Just last week, Valencia participated in a three-way scrimmage with Katella and El Modena, Sandoval breaking the first play 60-plus yards for six. When discussing the upcoming season Tuesday, Marrujo mentioned Sandoval’s long touchdown run first. “He’s a good kid,” the coach added. “He’ll play both ways for us this year. Added 20 pounds of muscle in the summer. Now he’s up to 180.”
Valencia last year won the program’s first Empire League championship in six full seasons. The 2014 Tigers later beat Northwood in the opening round of the CIF-SS Southwest Division playoffs, then fell in the quarterfinals to upstart Capistrano Valley. Marrujo owns 14 league championships (11 Orange, three Empire), but last won a CIF championship in 1992, having since appeared in only one title game (2005). Valencia’s been a perennial Orange County power for as long as anyone can remember, but what’ll it take for the 2015 Tigers to break through the program’s recent glass ceiling?
“Marrujo, man, he’s a great coach,” said returning letter winner Chach Ben-Yisrael, a third-year, two-way starter. “We’ll go far as long as we learn what he’s teaching us. He’s all about the game, wanting all of us to put it all on the line for each other. No excuses. “He knows how to run a team. We all look up to him.” Valencia’s roster is lean this year, the program graduating key upperclassmen in the spring who took with them valuable experience, production and postseason laurels. For the first time in three years, Marrujo no longer has the luxury of coaching a Pat Godoy, a Jake Watkins, a Nick Coghill, a Zach Sawtelle – kids three years in the making. But in Sandoval, Ben-Yisrael, Jacob Briggs and others, Marrujo has returning letter winners at key positions, kids led by previous senior classes.
“We lost a lot of players, a lot of good, strong players,” said Briggs, Valencia’s leading tackler last season and a returning first-team All-Empire League linebacker. “But we’re filling in, and we have the same coaches. If we listen to them, we’ll do well throughout the season.”
Few programs last year ran the football as well as Valencia. With Sandoval, Godoy and Will Van Dam averaging more than six yards a pop between them, Valencia’s 2,900 rushing yards ranked high on the county leader board. With Godoy and Van Dam gone, Sandoval will assume lead back duties this fall.
The senior isn’t big, but he’s built like a rock, and the kid can fly. Running behind an offensive line anchored by seniors Hayden Werbe, Warren Garten and Tyler Glosser, Sandoval and 2014 revelation, junior understudy Jahquon Speed should find plenty of running room at the line of scrimmage. “Every practice I’m working harder,” Sandoval said. “Every rep makes a difference.”
Succeeding Godoy under center is Tyler Switzer, a kid Marrujo spent much of last summer talking up as Valencia’s next great passer. Though a September leg injury curtailed his junior campaign, a clean bill of health has Switzer back in the system, orchestrating Marrujo’s offense in his first full season as a starter. He’ll find comfort early in Ben-Yisrael’s playmaking on the outside.
Valencia’s heir to Watkins at receiver, Ben-Yisrael has the tools to become a valuable offensive asset. Now three years in, he’s as comfortable with the ball in air as anyone. “We’re going to do what we usually do, and that’s play Tiger football,” he said. Defensively, Briggs will be Valencia’s thunder.
His 120 tackles last season led the team, and at season’s end, Empire coaches rewarded him with first-team all-league plaudits. Valencia’s defense last year ceded only 15 points per game, an average skewed slightly by the 36 points Tustin scored in defeat on Halloween night. With Briggs at linebacker and three returning ball hawks in the secondary, opponents will again struggle to score on Valencia. “If you play your position at 100 percent, good things will happen,” Briggs said. “If you slack just a little bit, your teammates will see that.”
Marrujo’s a man of precious few words.
He doesn’t grant many interviews, and at times it’s an adventure even reaching him. But once tracked down and engaged, the man’s a walking, talking encyclopedia. He’s easily forgotten more about football over the years than most coaches have even thought of, and that’s fine, the 2015 season, after all, is just another opportunity for him to soak in more knowledge.
All his success, and here he is on a Tuesday afternoon in September talking about the positional battle brewing between four possible starting guards. Don’t get him started on the left tackle he recently promoted to varsity, or on his kicker, Mason Paine. “We’ll be steady,” Marrujo said. “Different than last season, but we’re a playoff team. We’ll contend for a league title.” Valencia teams take on the personality of their coach.
Whether it’s the league it plays in, its remote location or its annual, perhaps vanilla, success, Valencia always flies underneath the radar this time of year. Then November rolls around and there the Tigers are, chasing another CIF championship. "I just hope that all of us, the coaches here, have influenced the kids that have played for us in a positive way," Marrujo told OCVarsity in 2012. "So when they look back on it, they learned some things that they take with them as they go into adulthood – how to be responsible, how to be men. I think that's really important. "That's why you have athletics in high school."
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||2015 FOOTBALL SEASON
|Aug 28 Ketella High School (Scrimmage)
Sept 2 Blue and Gold 7PM - Main Gym
Sept 4 Yorba Linda High School
Sept 11 Brea Olinda High School
Sept 18 El Dorado High School
Sept 24 Troy High School
For all Valencia Tigers Sports news and events,
visit us at www.valenciaathletics.com
Week 01 Yorba Linda
Week 02 Brea Olinda
Week 03 El Dorado
Week 04 Troy
Week 05 Laguna Hills
|Week 06 Kennedy*
Week 07 Western*
Week 08 Cypress*
Week 09 Tustin*
Week 11 Pacifica*
BY KENNY CONNOLLY
Photo by Blaine Ohigashi
OCVarsity preview for the 2015 season:
Coach: Mike Marrujo
Last season: 10-2 overall, 5-0 league
Scouting report: Tyler Switzer becomes the starter under center this fall, but the senior has experience playing in crunch time. As a sophomore, Switzer replaced an injured Pat Godoy during a playoff game and he did the same last year in a nonleague matchup with Brea Olinda. While he has shown he’s plenty capable of making all the throws, Valencia’s offense starts with the run, so having Darren Sandoval back in the fold is a bonus for longtime coach Mike Marrujo. A smashmouth offensive attack will again be complemented by a physical defense led by linebacker Jacob Briggs, who tallied a team-high 120 tackles in 2014. Sandoval, Chach Ben-Yisrael and Jackson Mirth give the Tigers three returners in the secondary. While the faces change, the product on the field remains consistent. Valencia doesn’t have the athletes Tustin boasts, but it’s the clear favorite to finish second in the Empire League.
Bottom line: Valencia will miss last season’s playmakers, but it heads back to the postseason by following a proven formula.
Players to watch: Chach Ben-Yisrael, WR/S, Sr.; Jacob Briggs, LB, Sr.; Mason Paine, WR/K, Sr.; Darren Sandoval, RB/S, Sr.; Tyler Switzer, QB, Sr.
MISSION VIEJO ♦ Capistrano Valley extended its special playoff run Friday thanks to key plays on special teams and a swarming defense.
Adam Gordon returned a punt 31 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and later added an interception as the Cougars defeated visiting Valencia, 26-7, in the second round of the CIF-SS Southwest Division playoffs.
Capistrano Valley’s faithful delivered a standing ovation in the final seconds as the Cougars (9-3) advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1990. And they took that step by defeating a league champion for a second consecutive week.
“We all believed,” said Gordon, who also caught a 24-yard TD pass from Gavin Pruett and kicked two 30-yard field goals. “After that La Habra win came in (in the first round), we knew we had a special feeling about these playoffs.”
Capistrano Valley, the third-place team from the Sea View League, will play at league champion San Clemente in the semifinals next Friday. The Tritons beat the Cougars, 54-27, in early October. Capistrano Valley used two plays on special teams early in the fourth quarter to put away Empire League champion Valencia (10-2). Leading 16-7, Capistrano Valley employed some trickery on a fourth-and-5 from its 38 to set up Gordon’s punt return.
Capistrano Valley lined up for a first-down attempt but snapped the ball directly to running back/punter Jordan Bocko, who was lined up slightly behind Pruett. The Tigers guarded against the first down and didn’t have a returner for Bocko’s kick, which Trevor Wise downed at the Valencia 1with 10:46 left in the fourth.
The Cougars then forced a punt from the 3 and Gordon fielded the kick on the run and raced to his first punt return TD as the Cougars took a 23-7 lead with 9:45 left. Gordon said the Cougars practice the punt trickery, under special teams coach Roger Biehn, but ran it for the first time. “Capo Valley is based on special teams,” Gordon said.
Capistrano Valley’s defense also delivered a critical stop deep in its territory early in the third. On a fourth-and-1 from the Cougars’ 5, junior defensive tackle Alex Bale recorded a tackle for loss on a rush play to preserve a 16-0 lead.
The play loomed large as Valencia’s Jake Watkins scored on a 26-yard TD reception from Patrick Godoy on a third-and-17 with 2 seconds left in the third, trimming the Cougars’ lead to 16-7.Capistrano Valley held Valencia’s powerful ground attack – averaging 256 yards – to 56 yards and forced three turnovers.
Capistrano Valley led, 16-0, at halftime on the strength on two TD passes by Pruett. The Cougars forced turnovers on Valencia’s first two plays from scrimmage, including a one-handed interception by Wise with 9:36 left in the first quarter. Wise made the grab at the Tigers’ 43 and returned the ball 18 yards.
Pruett capitalized two plays later, tossing a 24-yard TD to Gordon – his 11th on the season – for a 6-0 lead. Capistrano Valley drove for a 30-yard field goal by Gordon for a 9-0 lead with 3:03 left in the first quarter.
[ Valencia - Capistrano Valley] Photo Gallery
See CIF Division Bracket breakdown CIF SOUTHERN SECTION
BY BRIAN REED-BAIOTTO
CONTRIBUTING WRITER OC REGISTER
PLACENTIA ♦ The writing was on the wall early in Valencia’s 45-14 victory over visiting Northwood.
Before the Tigers (10-1) ran three offensive plays, they led 21-0. From there, Northwood never mustered much of a challenge in Friday night’s one-sided CIFSS Southwestern Division playoff opener.
Valencia held the Timberwolves (7-4) on the game’s opening possession, and on its first play from scrimmage, Patrick Godoy hit Jake Watkins on a 58-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers got the ball back less than three minutes later, and Godoy promptly scored on an 82-yard sprint. Then Nick Coghill intercepted Northwood quarterback Brian Abel and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead just 5:38 into the game.
Valencia rushed for more than 400 yards, including a game-best 143 yards on just six carries for Darren Sandoval. He scored on a 75-yard run as the third quarter came to an end, which meant the fourth quarter would be played with a running clock.
Valencia will travel to Capistrano Valley next Friday for a quarterfinal game. “We came in wanting to run the ball well, and we did a good job of that,” Valencia coach Mike Marrajo said. “We’ve done a good job of being balanced offensively and our defense was solid as usual.”
Abel led Northwood with 105 yards rushing, and completed 12 of 28 passes for 143 yards. Abel scored on 66-yard run and connected with Andy Clyde on a 32-yard touchdown pass. Godoy finished with 119 yards rushing and 72 passing for Valencia, and Jahquon Speed gained 70 yards on 10 carries. Watkins had four catches for 74 yards and the score.
[ Valencia - Northwood] Photo Gallery
See CIF Division Bracket breakdown CIF SOUTHERN SECTION
BY MATT HANLON
CONTRIBUTING WRITER OC REGISTER
WESTMINSTER ♦ With a playoff spot already secured, Valencia could have taken it easy Friday night. Instead, the Tigers showed why they’re a playoff-bound team. Valencia wore down Pacifica with a persistent ground game and its usual steady defense in a 28-0 victory – the Tigers’ second shutout this season – at Bolsa Grande High.
“We played a good, clean game,” Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said. “It wasn’t real emotional, but I was really pleased the way we played, we ran the ball real well. … I feel real good where we’re at right now.” The Tigers (9-1, 5-0) didn’t draw a penalty in the game.
The win preserved their perfect Empire League record, a week after they clinched the league title and a CIF-SS Southwest Division playoff berth with a 39-36 win over Tustin.
Quarterback Pat Godoy ran 10 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 53 yards. The Tigers took the lead on Godoy’s 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He added a 32-yard touchdown run in the third. Jahquon Speed ran for a 4-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 26-yard score in the third.
He finished with 87 yards rushing. The Mariners (2-8, 1-4) didn’t advance inside Valencia’s 40 in the second half. Marcus Tolbert led the Pacifica offense, rushing for 62 yards on 19 carries.
[ Valencia - Pacific] Photo Gallery
CIF SOUTHERN SECTION
October 31, 2014
BY KENNY CONNOLLY STAFF WRITER
PLACENTIA ♦ As the rain clouds settled over Valencia High on Friday evening, quarterback Pat Godoy and the Tigers offense trotted to their 20-yard line with just over two minutes remaining in a tie ball game. Executing the two-minute drill in practice is one thing. Driving down the field in light showers with an Empire League championship on the line is something different.
Behind its unwavering three year starter, Valencia drove 60 yards on 10 plays to the Tustin 20-yard line. Junior kicker Mason Paine capped a wild night by booting a 37-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 39-36 victory over Tustin in a back-and-forth slugfest.
With the win, Valencia (8-1, 4-0) earned its first Empire League title since the 2007 season. The Tigers can try to finish with a perfect 5-0 league clip next Friday when they take on Pacifica in the regular-season finale. Tustin (5-4, 2-2) can grab the Empire League’s third guaranteed playoff spot if it can defeat Kennedy, which has an identical record, in next Saturday’s finale.
“It was a great win for us,” Valencia coach Mike Marrujo said after the game. “Tustin’s a tough team. They’ve got a lot of great athletes.”
The Tillers held a 15-14 lead at halftime thanks in large part to receiver George Wilson, who caught four passes for 133 yards, including touchdowns of 40 and 56 yards. Both scores, however, were followed by missed extra point attempts.
Valencia rebounded in the second half, scoring on its first three drives to regain control. With 7:11 left in the fourth quarter, Godoy capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive with a 2-yard keeper, giving the Tigers their largest lead at 36-21.
Wilson did not have a single reception in the second half, but, trailing by 15, Tustin quarterback Alema Pilimai guided the Tillers 71 yards in a little more than three minutes. Receiver Tyler Noble capped the nine-play drive with a 10-yard sweep, cutting the Valencia lead to 36-28 with 3:17 remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, Paine muffed a pooch kick, allowing Tustin to recover at the Valencia 45. Pilimai’s third touchdown pass of the game came seconds later, when Elijah Asiata took a screen pass 40 yards for the score.
A successful Robert Washington run on the 2-point conversion tied the score at 36 with 2:20 remaining, setting the stage for Godoy and Valencia’s offense. “It’s unbelievable,” Godoy said. “(Mason) did a good job. He was confident (before the kick).”
[ Valencia - Tustin] Photo Gallery
October 24, 2014 11:46 PM
BY KENNY CONNOLLY STAFF WRITER
PLACENTIA ♦ While the Empire League title wasn’t on the line in Friday night’s highly anticipated showdown between Valencia and Cypress, overwhelming control of the league’s fate certainly was. As both Mike Marrujo and Rick Feldman suspected, the game’s outcome came down to the final drive, actually, its final play.
Unfortunately for Feldman, Cypress’ first-year coach, he’ll be asking himself one question for the foreseeable future: what if? Centurions kicker Nick Buras was unable to attempt the potential winning 36-yard field goal due to a botched exchange from long snapper to holder, allowing the Tigers to savor a hard-fought 14-13 league win at Valencia High.
“We knew it was going to be close and it was,” Marrujo said. “I thought our defense won that game for us. It was one of those whatever-it-takes-to-win kind of games.” Tied with Cypress atop the standings entering Friday night, the Tigers (7-1, 3-0) have the inside track at claiming their first Empire League crown since 2007. Valencia will host Tustin (5-3, 2-1) Friday.
“I’m just going to enjoy this one tonight,” Marrujo continued, “and worry about beating Tustin tomorrow.” Cypress’ Quinten Pounds compiled 95 yards of total offense on 16 touches. His 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was his fifth of the season, and it gave Cypress a 10-7 lead with 5:07 remaining in the first half.
Tigers quarterback Pat Godoy finished with a game-high 122 yards rushing on 12 carries. He earned 84 of those yards late in the third quarter with his team struggling to string together first downs.
Backed up in Valencia territory late in the third, Godoy dropped back to pass, avoided the Centurion rush by stepping up in the pocket, and then took off. The senior raced 84 yards for a touchdown, claiming a 14-10 lead for Valencia with 39 seconds to go before the fourth.
Cypress (6-2, 2-1) cut the lead to one point when Buras, the team’s starting quarterback, booted his second field goal from 34 yards with 6:33 remaining. The Centurions had two possessions in the final 4:45, one resulting in a three-and-out, while the other advanced 41 yards down to the Valencia 18-yard line with 3 seconds to go.
“It’s eating away at me right now because a loss isn’t just a loss to these kids anymore,” Feldman said. “These kids have worked so hard and come so far, it’s a painful ordeal. “We just left too many points out on the field.”
[ Valencia - Cypress] Photo Gallery
BY DAVID DELGADO
CONTRIBUTING WRITER OC REGISTER
ANAHEIM ♦ The Valencia Tigers certainly looked the part of Empire League favorite in their dominating, 44-7 win over Western Saturday night. The Tigers, who rushed for 270 yards, made quick work of the Pioneers by establishing a punishing ground game from the start.
Strong offensive line play was the catalyst for everything Valencia had success with, enabling the running back trio of Mario Van Dam, Darren Sandoval and Jahquon Speed to do much of the damage to the Pioneer defense.
Valencia quarterback Pat Godoy ran for 75 first half yards and accounted for five touchdowns (three rushing and two passing). The Tigers started quickly when Sandoval scored from two yards out to give his team an 8-0 lead with 6:57 to play in the first quarter. On the Tigers second drive of the game, Godoy broke a 45-yard run giving Valencia the ball deep inside Western territory and, two plays later, he scored on an eight-yard touchdown run.
Western (1-6, 0-2) faced a 16-point hole entering the second quarter but put together an efficient 13-play drive that finally got them on the board and was capped with one-yard QB sneak by Nick Zarate on fourth-and-goal.
Moments later, after a failed onside kick by the Pioneers, Valencia would answer right back when Godoy hit Watkins for 41-yard pass that put the ball at the Western 7. Godoy scored on the next play, giving the Tigers a 22-7 lead. On the final play of the first half, Godoy hit a streaking Jake Watkins for a 56-yard score, giving Valencia a 37-7 lead at the break. Watkins finished with two catches that went for 97 yards.
Valencia (6-1 2-0) will host Cypress Friday in a battle for first place in the Empire League.
[ Valencia - Western] Photo Gallery