Valley focused on 'making plays' in new-look Allegheny Conference
Make a play. A simple three-word message has transformed into Valley’s rally cry.
But instead of just making a play, the Vikings are loaded with enough experience and talent that could lead to making a run.
“Our whole goal this summer, and we all wore the shirts, which was to ‘Make a Play’ because that’s what we didn’t do last year. And when we had to make a play we made a bad one,” said Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo, who is entering his fifth season with the Vikings. “We’re trying to make a play that affects every game that we’re in.”
Colosimo won’t lose any sleep at night this fall as his Vikings have playmakers at nearly every skilled position on the field. Valley returns nine players on offense and eight on defense to round out an attack, that on paper, should be able to run with the best teams in Class 2A.
One thing the Vikings have going for them are the program’s numbers are up significantly from a year ago. Colosimo will need to dig deep into the closet and come out with 45 helmets this season.
“Last year, I bought 32 new uniforms,” Colosimo said. “Who gets the uniform? I told the seniors if you get beat out by a freshman, that’s the way it’s going to be.”
One player who has secured a helmet, a number and a starting spot is 6-foot-2, 200-pound battering ram Deonte Ross. Colosimo said it is no secret the Vikings’ offense will run through Ross.
Also, for the first time since he’s been a coach at Valley, Colosimo will be calling the plays on offense.
“I’m calling the offense this year, and I’m old-fashioned,” Colosimo said. “I’m running power-iso. Power, power and more power, and that’s the way it’s going to be. I think you win games by beating people up, and that’s the way it’s going to be called this year.”
The run-heavy offense is expected to take the pressure off senior quarterback Tyler Green, who said he’s OK with becoming a game manager instead of a dual-threat quarterback like in years past.
Whether Colosimo chooses to use the run to set up the pass or not, Valley has a slew of options who are a threat to change a game.
Senior wide receiver Malique Richardson and junior Vaun Ross, Deonte’s younger brother, are looking to scorch opposing defenses. Colosimo gave high praise to Vaun Ross, saying he could possibly be one of the best players he’s ever coached.
“We’re looking for Malique to step up and also looking for Vaun Ross to show what he can do,” Colosimo said. “(Ross) has no idea of the talent level that he has. He’s built for speed, and (Deonte) is built to run you over.”
Valley’s depth this year is on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Vikings will play a 4-4 defense. Deonte Ross and Hutcherson will fill the defensive end positions. With Hutcherson’s speed and Ross’ power, Colosimo is hoping the tandem will cause problems for opposing offenses.
“We’re going to blitz often, not to hide people, but to make (our) speed make them hurry their game,” Colosimo said.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Green will line up at middle linebacker. Green will stand alongside 6-1, 275-pound senior linebacker David Schuffert. Schuffert had a breakout season last year in his first year playing the position.
For a team that has had tough luck in recent history by narrowly missing the postseason, the Vikings will drop from Class 3A to 2A. In Class 2A, 16 teams make the postseason, as opposed to just eight in 3A. The Vikings’ chances of securing one of the four playoff spots in the Allegheny Conference is not out of reach.
“I think the drop (in classes) is good,” Colosimo said.
In addition to last year’s WPIAL Class 2A runner-up, Steel Valley, the Vikings will play familiar foes in Apollo-Ridge and Shady Side Academy, along with East Allegheny, Avonworth and Summit Academy to round out the new conference alignment. Valley will travel to Imani Christian and Freedom and host Riverside for its nonconference slate. The Vikings also get the benefit of an attractive home schedule that includes a pair of Class 2A preseason favorites in Shady Side Academy and Steel Valley.
“Right now, we’re where we’re supposed to be, but we’re in a conference with Steel Valley, East Allegheny, and there’s a lot of good teams in there,” Colosimo said. “You can’t have a bad game, or these teams will eat you up.”
Coach: Muzzy Colosimo
2017 record: 3-6, 3-4
All-time record: 258-232-9
Date, Opponent, Time
8.24, at Burrell, 7 p.m.
8.31, Avonworth*, 7 p.m.
9.7, Shady Side Academy*, 7 p.m.
9.15, at Imani Christian, 1 p.m.
9.21, Steel Valley*, 7 p.m.
9.28, at Freedom, 7:30 p.m.
10.5, at Apollo-Ridge*, 7 p.m.
10.12, Summit Academy*, 7 p.m.
10.19, Riverside, 7 p.m.
10.26, at East Allegheny*, 7 p.m.
*Class 2A Allegheny Conference game
William Whalen is a freelance writer.