Outlook: It’s very rare for the Valley Christian football program to suffer two consecutive losing seasons. That’s what happened in 2011 and 2012, but the personnel returning this season makes it very unlikely the streak reaches a third year. The Trojans have fallen from their spot among the Division V elite in recent years but a playoff berth seems likely this season, and once they get there, the Trojans could do some damage.
T.J. Widner returns as quarterback, and while he’s not your protoypical signal-caller - Widner is getting recruited at the next level as a tight end - he’s a top-tier athlete whose performance will play a big role in the team’s fortunes. Leading rushers Ty Corbin and Cory Kasperson are back, as is second-leading wide receiver Zach Wolfe.
Dylan Nussle is one of the main players back on defense, as he had 11 sacks in 2012.
Former Alabama and NFL quarterback Jeff Rutledge has taken over as coach and he brings with him experience from both the college and professional ranks in the past decade. While the past couple years have been out of the ordinary for Valley Christian with all the losing, the pieces are there for a big step forward in 2013.
Division V, Section IV
Coach: Jeff Rutledge
Last year’s record: 4-6, missed Division V postseason
Top returners: QB/DE T.J. Widner (1,377 yards passing, 8 TD, 10 INT); RB Ty Corbin (106 att., 621 yards, 4 TD); RB/DB Cory Kasperson (122 rush, 599 yards, 5 TD; 2 INT, 2 FR); WR Zach Wolf (30 rec., 430 yards, TD); DL Dayton Nussle (11 sacks).
Aug. 31 vs. Northwest Christian at Walkup Skydome; Sept. 6 vs. Arizona Lutheran; Sept. 13 at Tonopah Valley; Sept. 20 vs. Chandler Prep; Sept. 28 at Tempe Prep; Oct. 4 vs. Veritas Prep; Oct. 11 vs. Sequoia; Oct. 19 at Scottsdale Prep; Oct. 25 vs. Paradise Honors; Nov. 1 at Scottsdale Christian.
Aug. 31 vs. Northwest Christian: It’s a very tough opener for the Trojans as they face off with the defending champions. Even though Valley Christian struggled last year, it has a lot of experienced players returning, which should help the learning curve in the first game of the year.
Sept. 28 at Tempe Prep: Valley Christian was the dominant small-school program in the East Valley for many years, but Tempe Prep has put together quite a run of late. The Knights beat Valley Christian 27-0 last year but this matchup is expected to be closer.
Nov. 1 at Scottsdale Christian: These two teams have always been among the best in the small-school classification. Scottsdale Christian had a better season in 2012 but doesn’t have as much experience returning, so the Trojans may be favored.