2011 Recap: 1-8 overall, 0-5 in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail Division II, 0-3 in districts.
Valley Center got a big start to the year, taking a 20-0 lead over Arkansas City in the first half of the first week. But the Hornets couldn’t hold off a second-half comeback by the Bulldogs and lost a heartbreaker 21-20. Valley Center bounced back in Week 2 with a 9-6 win over Circle. In Week 5, the Hornets were a PAT in the fourth quarter away from tying Goddard in another 21-20 loss. One mark in the win column doesn’t measure how close this team was, and Valley Center hopes this is the year to go from being competitive, to winning.
Returning Starters: Offensive 7, Defensive 8
Returning Lettermen: 22
2012 District: Andover, Newton, at Emporia
Of Valley Center’s seven returning starters, six of them are seniors. And while the Hornets have been struggling, they have struggled with this senior class seeing tons of varsity action at a young age. This is the season for the trial by fire to pay off.
Up front, the Hornets welcome back a pair of seniors in Zac Sander and Dakota Hoffine. Valley Center will want to establish the run and these two will have the ability to lead the group of linemen to make it happen.
At running back, Keaton Canaday is back to carry the ball after taking on a heavy load last season. Canaday was second on the team in carries behind quarterback Tate Anderson, but led the team in rushing yardage with 412 yards on the ground at a solid 4.68 yards per carry. Canaday was also a big play threat in the passing game with 121 yards on just 7 receptions. Miles Balthazor, the lone junior on Valley Center’s list of returning starters can carry the ball as well.
The Hornets are loaded with talent at receiver, with four seniors returning. Braden Tormey was one of Valley Center’s most consistent big-play threats last season, leading the team with 281 yards receiving with an average of 14.79 yards per catch. Ryan Scheibmeir was right behind Tormey with 254 yards receiving and a touchdown. Scheibmeir also lead the team in receptions with 27. Dylan Johnson had a limited number of catches last season, but made them count. In just 4 receptions, Johnson picked up 36 yards.
Balthazor can line up at receiver too, and has some snaps at quarterback under his belt. Balthazor completed 5 passes last season. Canaday took some snaps also and completed 6 passes last season, giving the Hornets a couple of viable options to replace Anderson.
Valley Center is in the same position defensively as it is offensively; loaded with seniors.
Tony Bluml gives the Hornets a senior to hold down the defensive line. At the next level, Valley Center is loaded at linebacker.
Jon Elliott returns as a senior linebacker after leading the team with 62 tackles last year. Elliott also recorded a sack, forced a fumble, and recovered two fumbles. Garrett Reeves is another senior linebacker returning as a huge contributor from last year’s team. Reeves was third on the team with 53 tackles, had an interception, forced a fumble and recovered a couple of fumbles. Justin Holdaway makes it three returning senior linebackers who were a big part of the defense last season. Holdaway picked up 50 tackles last season including 3 sacks, intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards, forced 2 fumbles and recovered one.
Junior Miles Balthazor can contribute as a linebacker as well, with 27 tackles and an interception last year as a sophomore.
Valley Center has a bunch of experience in the secondary to match the talent at linebacker. With three seniors in the secondary to go with the three seniors at linebacker, the Hornets have a deep defense. Keaton Canaday returns as a defensive back after his 57 tackles made him the second leading tackler last season. Braden Tormey is coming off a 20-tackle season and led the team with 3 interceptions last year. Senior Ryan Scheibmeir had 20 tackles of his own last season and an interception as well.
Odds and Ends:
Valley Center has struggled to find wins. But this has the potential to be a breakout year for the program. The Hornets have 10 seniors of the 11 returning starters from a team that was competitive last season. This class has learned a lot in its time in pads, with one big lesson looming; how to win games. If Valley Center can build up some confidence through winning games in the first six games of the year, the Hornets could potentially be a legitimate dark horse contender in the district.
In the first two weeks of district play, Valley Center has a chance to make a big statement about its program, and possibly earn a spot in the playoffs. With Andover, followed by Newton, the Hornets have a couple of teams they have been unable to beat, but have been closing the gap. Both of these games will be in Valley Center, and if there was ever a time for the Hornets to break through against these opponents, this is it.