Valencia Vikings Overcome Odds
& Win CIF Southern Section Title
February, 2022 - Issue #207
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

Santa Clarita athletics enthusiasts watched an improbable sports feat unfold when the Valencia Vikings took the CIF Southern Section title - and more - during a storied playoff run.
Says the Vikings' 17-year Head Football Coach Larry Muir of 2021: "It was a crazy year all around."
That may be an understatement.
The Vikings didn't only top the CIF Southern Section, but ended up within one game of the California State Division 2A title - after sneaking into the playoffs with an at-large bid and losing their top recruit, senior quarterback and SJSU signee Tyler Voss, along the way to an ACL tear.
In sports, much as in the game of life, what's important is how you finish - and the Vikings finished with their deepest run into the California State Championship playoffs in school history, only to lose a 45-38
barn-burner to Scripps High School on December 4.
At the start of the 2021 season, Valencia was a logical pick to be atop the Foothill League by season's end. Why not? For the last 11 seasons the Vikings had won at least a share of the Foothill League titles until Saugus stopped that streak last spring. (The 2020 season was actually played in the spring of 2021.).
The Vikings entered the actual 2021 season with the usual high expectations, but after a brutal preseason schedule that included losses to Villa Park and a Rancho Cucamonga squad that started the year in the Southern Section Top 25, Muir was ready to turn the page as league play commenced.
"We started the league schedule with West Ranch, which is a very good program... After pre-season, we were scuffling a little bit, and we go down two touchdowns before halftime," said Muir about the October 1 23-20 loss to the Wildcats.
Then, in the third quarter, highly-recruited quarterback Voss suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
Muir, who has been coaching at Valencia since 1996, understands how quickly the chances of a championship season can come to an end and in that moment, he reminded his team of the hard fact.
"We have to always see what we can do to elevate our play in those situations with our backs against the wall, and Trey had to immediately embrace his role. He came out that first series and threw a touchdown pass," said Muir about Junior Quarterback Trey Erikson, who went in for Voss to lead the Viking offense.
Even with Erikson stepping up, Valencia would continue to struggle finding their stride with a 27-21 loss to Hart on October 15.
The tumbles continued. "Then, this huge game gets cancelled with Saugus because of coronavirus - and it looked like we were done for the year from there," Muir reflected, "But we got the at-large bid into the playoffs and it was like a life-line. We could have been turning in our equipment right then, but instead we got a shot - and we really stepped up."
Valencia took that bid and went on to make an improbable run deeper into the playoffs than any Vikings team in school history, rattling off wins against Rio Mesa, La Habra and Chino Hills before defeating perennial powerhouse Oaks Christian for the CIF Southern Section Championship by a pair of touchdowns, 28-14.
"We had some terrific guys step up who are going to have bright futures wherever they may go. Devontre Merryweather - who improved dramatically over the course of the year - was a huge factor for us down the stretch," said Muir about his standout senior wide receiver. Merryweather signed with Boise State shortly after the season's end.
Two-way wide-out/cornerback Duhron Goodman is someone that Muir also calls, "An amazing talent, a player-of-the-year type talent... He just got better and better as the year went on."
Coach Muir didn't sell his guys short on the defensive side of the ball, either, saying, "Guys like Victor Sainz, Giorgio Spiropoulos and Reid Farrell held this team together," calling Farrell, "A legitimate sideline-to-sideline player."
While nobody could have foreseen the Viking's season, not after the rough start, not after the injuries - and certainly not after the COVID-canceled Saugus game - underestimating the Valencia Vikings has always been a bad idea... and now they have another title to prove it.
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