If West Valley coach Craig Whitney had concerns about graduating 19 players off a team that posted a 22-3 record over the past two years, maybe those fears were abated on Thursday.
Despite the loss of personnel, West Valley entered play ranked No. 4 in state 2A in the Seattle Times preseason poll. They looked the part.
Junior quarterback Matt Allen ran for three touchdowns – including a 73-yard gallop on the second play of the second half – and threw for another as the Eagles rolled 3A North Central 49-0 at Albi Stadium.
“I don’t know how you can have preseason rankings,” Whitney said. “Honestly I don’t think we deserve to be up that high because we lost 19 kids. Maybe four of five weeks down the road we’ll see how we are.”
Still, a shutout of a higher-classification team on opening night has to instill confidence.
“It does,” Whitney said. “First game of the year you don’t know what to expect. We did some things right. We’ll try to make some corrections, fix some things.”
“It gives us a huge amount of confidence, especially me,” Allen said. “As sophomore quarterback starting (last year), there was a lot of pressure. This year I plan to take over.”
Allen finished 9 of 11 for 138 yards with five carries for 101 yards.
“Matt’s a tremendous leader,” Whitney said. “Works hard, spent a lot of time in the weight room and getting faster, getting stronger.
“Really his mental game was good last year as a sophomore and its gotten sharper over the offseason.”
Marshall Meleney carried 12 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
West Valley went undefeated in the Great Northern League last season and finished 13-1 overall, falling to eventual state champ Hockinson 53-30 in a state semifinal.
The Eagles averaged 35.5 points for and 10 against in 2017 – and bettered both marks against its upper-classification competition in the season opener for both teams.
North Central, under new coach Sean Garvey, lost 16 starters off last year’s 2-8 team – including most of its starting linemen – and was overmatched and overpowered all night.
The Indians received the opening kick and started at their 28. They proceeded to go backward for 18 yards over three plays. A short punt set West Valley up at the Indians’ 30.
Ethan Rehm took a counter for 11 yards and Meleney took a sweep for 9 to give the Eagles first-and-goal. Rehm swept left untouched for the score and a 7-0 lead with 7:32 left in the first.
After another North Central possession that lost yardage, West Valley took the ball back at the 50.
The Eagles used a completion for 24 yards on a fake punt to get into the red zone again. Meleney dragged several would-be tacklers for an 18-yard touchdown carry to put WV up 14-0.
Another three-play possession for North Central brought about another punt, and West Valley got it back at its 22.
The Eagles methodically marched down the field. Allen found Grant Conrad for a 17-yard completion and Kobin Carter carried for 13 down to the NC 16. Three plays later, Allen kept it for 1-yard sneak and 21-0 lead.
Next possession, Melaney busted an 18-yard run and Allen hit Alyjouah Rollins on a slant for 12 to set up first-and-goal at the 2. Allen called his own number again for his second short TD run and a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
West Valley started its next possession at its 19 and North Central offered little resistance as the Eagles went the length of the field again. Once in Indians territory, Allen scrambled for 18 yards down to the 6.
On the next play, Allen rolled left and found JW Barker open on a crossing route to make it 35-0 at intermission.
The Eagles outgained NC 304 yards to minus-2 in the first half.
On the second play of the second half, Allen kept it a counter on the option and went 73 yards for a score to make it 42-0 and instituted the running clock.
“The whole game we have been pounding it from that formation,” Allen said. “The defense was just crash, crash, crash – especially the D-end. On that last one, I just had to take it.”
Meleney busted a 30-yard touchdown run midway through the third to put the Eagles up 49-0.
North Central got into field-goal range against West Valley backups with 14 second to go, but the Eagles blocked the kick to preserve the shutout.