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Prep football: Valencia at a glance

(Continuing a series of capsule previews heading into the Aug. 22 season opener)

Coach: Wes Shank (2nd year; 6-5)

Last season: 6-5; lost to Belen in 5A first round

Returning starters: 3 offense, 2 defense

Key players: Ryan Thompson, sr. (5-11, 200, RB/slot); Angelo Legarreta, sr. (6-0,

Tim Houck of Valencia High football 2019

175, WR); T.J. Farwell, sr. (5-10, 210, G); Nate Rodriguez, soph. (5-11, 170, QB); Tim Houck, sr. (5-11, 160, CB); Anthony MontaƱo, sr. (5-10, 150, OLB); Isaiah Vigil, sr. (5-7, 140, S/slot)

Outlook: Coming off a playoff berth in Shank’s first season Valencia was ravaged by graduation, with more than 20 2019 seniors gone. Where does that leave the Jaguars? With a smaller and comprehensively younger group. Shank said he believes Valencia will start “quite a few” sophomores and freshmen this season. While the future looks promising, this one is a pretty big rebuild, and on top of that, the program has about 20 fewer players than a year ago. Lacking only varsity experience, Rodriguez has the physical tools at QB. Thompson will be one of the key skill-position athletes in this offense, while Pedro Garcia, a senior, will be the primary running back. The O-Line will start at least two sophomores and only one senior. The defense is clearly ahead of the offense at this stage, Shank said; Houck, he added, is the only all-district player who returns from last season. Valencia hopes it can be in the mix for second place in its district behind Los Lunas.

2019 schedule

(All games at 7 p.m.,

x-denotes District 5-5A game)

Aug. 23, at Alamogordo

Aug. 30, at Highland (M)

Sept. 6, Rio Grande

Sept. 13, at Moriarty

Sept. 20, at Santa Teresa

Sept. 27, Bloomfield

Oct. 4, Los Alamos

x-Oct. 18, Los Lunas

x-Oct. 25, at Belen

x-Nov. 1, Valley

Circle the date: The Jaguars won an overtime road game at Bloomfield last season, giving this latest go-round some additional intrigue.