Football: The up and down roller coaster city is over for Valley College and now it is time to review.
By Kevin Buckles Jr., Sports Editor
The Monarchs’ Jekyll-and-Hyde season ended at home on Saturday, losing to West LA 38-28 and finishing the year with a 3-7 record. Valley finished with one less point in the “win” column than last year, along with a 1-6 conference record in the whirlwind of a season.
The team’s strange case began this year with a promising start. Valley’s first two games were impressive wins, including a 57-10 victory against El Camino-Compton Center that pushed their record to 2-0 for the second consecutive season.
Despite losing two of their next three games, the Monarchs remained very competitive, as the losses came by a combined four points against the Mt. San Jacinto Eagles and conference foe LA Southwest College Cougers.
At 3-2 (1-1) heading into their bye week, Valley looked poised to make a solid run at finishing in the top tier of their conference, and to surely finish above a .500 record for the first time since 2010 where they finished 6-4.
The Monarchs’ offense was just starting to hit their stride while the mean, green, Mr. Hyde defensive unit was outstanding in punishing offenses during the first five games. They ranked No. 1 in the state in total defense, and were only allowing 13.2 points per game—a gigantic improvement from 2013 when the defense allowed 29 points per game.
Somewhere during the bye week however, Valley seemed as if they drank the potion of complacency, turning into nice-guy Dr. Jekyll. The team broke down in all facets, and failed to regain the competitive edge that they displayed early in the season resulting in ending the season on a five-game losing streak.
The dominant defense that once ranked No. 1 went from allowing an average of 13.2 points per game to a whopping 37 points per game in the final stretch, while the offense struggled with inconsistency and turnovers—all recipes for losing.
First-year Head Coach Juan Navarro knew he was in for a challenging season after officially being hired less than 60 days before Valley’s first game. However, despite the disappointment of their season, Navarro remains confident in what he and his staff instilled into the players and the program going forward.
“We do have the foundation here,” said Navarro. “But I think we need to continue to develop our football IQ as well as having the expectation of commitment, accountability, execution, and preparation continuing to happen. That’s what I hope the guys that are coming back [next season] can help implement.”
According to the newly-appointed coach, 85 percent of this season’s team were freshmen, and he expects between 50 and 60 percent of those players to remain at Valley for the 2015 season. He cautioned, however, that the constant revolving door surrounding junior college football, with players potentially leaving at any time, makes that estimate indefinite.
As far as recruiting this offseason, Navarro mentioned that the program will aim to heavily recruit for the offensive and defensive line to help provide depth to corps that severely lacked it this year.
Raveon Hoston, a freshman defensive lineman, who will be called upon to step up in the 2015 season, cites the experience and continuity of enduring this topsy-turvy year as to why the Monarchs’ future is still bright going forward into next fall.
“Experience will play a big part in [the team’s] success next season,” said Hoston. “Even though our record doesn’t indicate it, I still feel like we had a good season and really came together as a group, and that will only make next season much better.”