Valley Christian Trojans
Division V, Section II
Coach: Kevin Allen
Record last year: 6-4, lost to Scottsdale Christian in first round of 2A playoffs
Returning starters offense: 2, including quarterback Josh Pineda, who started most of the season for the Trojans a year ago. He completed just under 50 percent of his passes and rushed for 292 yards. Those totals will improve greatly this season.
Returning starters defense: 3, including linebacker-turned-defensive lineman Justin Maples. As a sophomore last season, Maples had 43 tackles before suffering a knee injury. He’s still not back to full speed, but the 6-0, 210-pound junior will be a force on the line nonetheless.
Aug. 26 at Canyon State Academy; Sept. 1 vs. Tempe Prep; Sept. 9 at Bourgade Catholic; Sept. 16 vs. Casa Grande; Sept. 23 vs. Coronado; Sept. 30 vs. San Tan Foothills; Oct. 7 at Phoenix Christian; Oct. 14 at Seton Catholic; Oct. 21 vs. Scottsdale Christian; Oct. 28 at Arizona Lutheran.
Sept. 1 vs. Tempe Prep: The Trojans lost four games last season, but no loss stung more than the 25-0 beating the Knights put on them. The Trojans will be looking for a bit of redemption that they can hopefully use to propel them to a fast start.
Sept. 16 vs. Casa Grande: The population of the two schools is more than 1,000 students apart, but don’t let those numbers fool you into thinking the Trojans have no chance in this one. Winning this game could be a huge morale boost for Valley Christian.
Oct. 21 vs. Scottsdale Christian: The Eagles are far from the team that beat the Trojans twice last season, but that does not take any of the luster off of this annual grudge match.
Trojans coach Kevin Allen is beginning his second year at the helm and is faced with a situation not seen in a few years at Valley Christian.
The school has just 40 kids out for football this season and the team is lacking the size and speed the Trojans have been blessed with in the past. But that may not be the biggest challenge Allen faces.
“Our issue is we have a lot of inexperience,” Allen said. “We do have some athletes that can help us, but when you don’t have experience, it’s a question mark to see what they can do and how quickly they can learn.”
The two positions the Trojans do have experience with are important ones: Quarterback and linebacker.
Senior Josh Pineda enters the season knowing he will be the starter at quarterback after taking over the starting role early in the season last year. His presence will take a lot of the pressure off of the inexperienced players around him.
“He’s just a multi-dimensional athlete that has a lot of abilities,” Allen said of Pineda. “He gives us an added dimension at the QB spot.”
The Trojans also have three defensive starters returning in Dillon Lackhan, Jake Feenstra and Justin Maples. All three can play linebacker, but Allen said Maples will start the season on the line. The downturn in numbers doesn’t come at a good time, as the Trojans are faced with one of the most difficult schedules in school history, with games against large schools Casa Grande, Coronado, San Tan Foothills and Seton Catholic.
“There are no easy games. Every game is going to be a battle,” Allen said. “From the beginning, you don’t want to miss any games. It’s a great schedule if you are a fan.”