Head Coach: Ryon Jarvis, 2nd year
2016 Record: 6-3 (5-3 1A-DI Snake River Conference)
Victor Lopez showed up to the Times-News Media Day on July 27 with his Valley High School football jersey and a big, shiny ring on his left hand.
The ring was from 2015, Lopez's sophomore season, when the Vikings won the 1A Division I state title. The championship ring reminds the wide receiver/safety of the ultimate goal, and how hard it can be to earn another one.
The Vikings are coming off a winning season, but they finished fourth in the Snake River Conference and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They expect more success, but a trip back to the playoffs is less certain.
"It’s a true five-team race. If you stub your toe in one of those games, or somebody doesn’t help you out, there could potentially be two winning teams sitting at home," Valley coach Ryon Jarvis said. "I don’t ever want it to be an easy path. You have to be able to hone your sword all year."
Valley finished behind Raft River, Glenns Ferry and Oakley in last season's conference standings. It narrowly defeated Challis, the fifth place team. Few conferences at any level are as tough to earn a playoff spot, let alone the top seed.
Jarvis partly blamed poor mental toughness for his team's 1-3 finish to last season, but injuries also sunk the Vikings. Starting quarterback Michael Arrieta, for instance, went down in the sixth game of the season.
"Not a lot of things went our way," said Lopez, who tore his MCL in the final game.
Valley brings back some talent, but only five starters return. And, of course, conference looks deep again.
"We have our work cut out for us," defensive coordinator Bern Mussman said.