FOOTBALL – No. 1 defense has made it no fun to face the Monarchs.
By Kevin Buckles Jr., Sports Editor
A dynamic and downright dominant unit. The best bunch in the state thus far. The Monarchs’ defense has arrived.
Five games into the 2014 season, Valley College’s football team has won three of their first five games, thanks in large part to the outstanding play of their defense.
The Monarchs currently sit atop the throne, ranking No. 1 out in the state in total defense out of 69 teams, yielding just 206.8 yards per game —a monumental improvement from last seasoon’s 393.4 yards per game (No. 38).
“We are the best defense in the state, that speaks for itself,” said freshman defensive lineman Raveon Hoston. “People can keep doubting us if they want to but we are going to go out and keep showing what we got.”
Opposing offenses have been stifled as the mean, green unit has only conceded 13.2 points per game. Even in Valley’s two defeats, the defense only allowed 20 points total, an average of just 10 points per game.
The group has been particularly stellar against the pass, also ranked at No. 1. In fact, they are the only team in the state to surrender fewer than 100 passing yards per game, with just 96.4 allowed.
“Our defense is official,” said freshman defensive back Stanley Dockery. “Everybody is contributing: the defensive line, the linebackers, the secondary, everybody. We’re all doing this together.”
Dockery also lauds Head Coach Juan Navarro for the squad’s rapid ascendance.
“Coach [Navarro] is the main reason for our defense,” said Dockery. “He always puts us in the right positions to make plays and be successful together.”
The first-year head coach experienced similar success last season as the defensive coordinator for the Pierce College Brahmas, when he led them to a fourth-ranked finish in total defense. Since Navarro’s departure however, the Brahmas have suffered a catastrophic drop this year, plunging to 64th, further highlighting the coach’s impact on both programs.
Though the Monarchs are running the same 4-3 defensive scheme as last season, Coach Navarro credits the team’s improvement on the system maximizing the players’ athleticism, and putting them in the right positions to succeed.
“The kids bought into the system, have taken to the coaching, and learned what it really means to prepare,” insists Navarro. “Rankings don’t matter; it’s the fact that [the players] responded. For a team that’s been together just 90 days, the fact that they have responded well is what is important to us.”
The Monarchs will look to continue their defensive success as they begin their second half of the season this weekend against the Santa Barbara Vaqueros. According to Hoston, there will be no letup.
“We call ourselves the green light,” said Hoston. “When we step out on the field, we just go and never stop.”