Name: Josh Noel
Background: The early portion of the 2012 regular season has been nip-and-tuck for Valley, but having a sure pair of hands like Josh Noel's between the sticks can often be the difference between victory and defeat. A three-year starter, Noel earned All-Section 1-AA honors for the playoff-qualifying Vikings in 2012. At 3-2 overall and in the section to start the year, Noel is once-again expected to play a major role at Valley.
Name: Josh Noel
Name: Demetrius Houser
High School: Valley
Position: Running back
Background: Houser rushed for 287 yards and three touchdowns in Valley's 42-16 win at Deer Lakes last week. Houser scored on runs of 74, 21 and 65 yards. As a junior, Houser ran for a team-high 1,193 yards and 15 touchdowns, while averaging 10 yards per carry. He helped the Vikings end a 22-game losing streak and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.
Coach Chad Walsh said: "He'll be an important part of what we do. We like to set the tone running the football. He's a big part of the offense. He's got that natural ability, stuff you can't teach. He has two speeds, and once he kicks it into second gear, he's gone. He has really good vision. He's just naturally gifted."
Tri-State Sports & News Service writer Ken Wunderley profiles Valley graduate Anthony Saunders, a redshirt senior cornerback on the Slippery Rock football team. Read the story below.
It's no surprise that Anthony Saunders chose Slippery Rock University to continue his athletic and academic career after graduating from Valley High School in 2009.
"My brother introduced me to this wonderful campus," said Saunders, referring to his older brother A.J., a 2010 graduate who also played in the defensive backfield for The Rock. "A.J. introduced me to coach Mihalik and showed me the ins and outs of college football."
Saunders, a 5-foot-10 redshirt senior, has been a mainstay in Slippery Rock's defensive backfield since 2010.
Tri-State Sports & News Service writer Brad Everett writes about the Valley football team, who is looking to build off a season that saw them snap a 22-game losing streak followed by a trip to the playoffs. Click here to read the story.
"There are challenges, and then there is what Chad Walsh faced when he accepted the head coaching position at Valley before last season.
The Vikings' recent history had been far from flattering: Two consecutive winless seasons, 22 losses in a row, and a different coach for the third consecutive year.
This season, Valley doesn't have to worry about putting an end to a long losing streak or auditioning for a new coach. Instead, the Vikings have their sights set on making a repeat trip to the playoffs and winning a conference title.
What a difference a year makes."
Demetrius Houser played a big part in the Vikings stunning turnaround season a year ago, and his ability to do the same this season could be paramount to the team gaining similar success.
Houser (6-1, 200, Sr.) rushed for 1,193 yards and 15 touchdowns, both team highs. Houser made the most of his 129 rushing attempts, averaging close to 10 yards per carry.
The only other Valley player to run for more than 100 yards was Jaden Walker (481), who graduated.
"He's got that natural ability, stuff you can't teach," coach Chad Walsh said of Houser. "He has two speeds, and once he kicks it into second gear, he's gone."