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Valley View optimistic despite inexperience

The undersized Blazers must fill some big shoes on defense.

SBLive is previewing the Arkansas high school football teams from the three largest classifications. Today, we feature the Valley View Blazers from the 5A-East Conference.

By Jeff Halpern  

VALLEY VIEW BLAZERS

HEAD COACH

Sean Cockrell, eight season, 45-39

2021 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 7-4

Conference record: 5-2

Playoffs: Lost to Magnolia, 42-14

KEY DEPARTURES

Defensive end Mario Crawford, all-state

Linebacker Cooper Lutz, all-state

Linebacker Jaden Wells, all-state

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Junior quarterback Carson Turley - The 5-10, 160-pound junior completed 72-of-127 passes for 941 yards and 4 touchdowns and rushed for 591 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games as a sophomore

Junior running back Slade Caldwell - The 5-9, 160-pound junior star baseball pitcher rushed for 142 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry and caught 8 passes for 65 yards as a sophomore.

Senior wide receiver Jackson Harmon - The 6-4, 180-pound senior caught 14 passes for 166 yards and 1 touchdown as a junior.

Senior wide receiver/strong safety Jay Morman - The 6-3, 190-pound senior moves from running back and had 35 tackles and 1 interception as a junior.

Senior tackle Jackson Hogard - The 6-1, 230-pound senior power cleans 275 pounds and squats 400 pounds and has started the past two seasons.

Senior guard Hayden Ross - The 5-11, 215-pound senior has started the past two seasons.

Senior tackle Nate Kincannon - The 6-1, 235-pond senior started last season.

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Senior guard Mason Roberts - The 5-10, 235-pound senior moves from center.

Senior cornerback Dekwon Gallaway - The 5-9, 170-pound senior had 38 tackles and 1 interception as a junior.

Senior free safety Carson Winters - The 6-2, 180-pound senior had 65 tackles and 1 interception as a junior.

Junior linebacker Brian Huff - The 6-3, 225-pound junior had 72 tackles, 9 for losses, 2 sacks and 3 interceptions as a sophomore.

Junior nose tackle Lejavian Ervin - The 5-8, 245-pound junior had 15 tackles as a junior.

OUTLOOK

Cockrell said his team is young and inexperienced but has potential. According to Cockrell, the biggest areas of concern are the team’s size and the defensive line. The Blazers must replace Crawford, an all-state selection who had 60 tackles, 14 losses and 5 sacks.

Wells, who led the Blazers with 121 tackles, including 15 for losses, and Lutz, who had 88 tackles are going to be big losses.

Cockrell likes his secondary which is led by Gallaway, Morman and Winters. Huff brings productivity to the linebacker position, which must replace Wells and Lutz.

Finding help for Erwin on the defensive line is a priority.

“We need to find some linebackers and defensive linemen,” said Cockrell.

The offensive line averages 224 pounds per man, which Cockrell says is undersized, but has four players who either started or played a lot last year.

The offense is led by Turley, who is a dual threat as evidenced by his ability to rush for 591 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The big shoes to fill on offense belong to Cameron Davidson, who rushed for 442 yards last year and receivers Grayson Becker, who caught 25 passes for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns and Reid Tyler, who had 21 catches for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Caldwell, Harmon and Moorman are now in positions to try and replace that production.

COACH SAID

“We are going to be very young and inexperienced. We may have more speed than we have had in a while.”

Sean Cockrell