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September 22, 2023

Scotts Valley bulks up in the trenches | High school football

Falcons will rely on linemen to carry them this season

Scotts Valley has always had a talented group of offensive linemen, the “weight room kids” as head coach Louie Walters calls them, to provide running lanes wide enough for a garbage truck to get through.

But the past two seasons were a challenge for the big guys mostly because they couldn’t spend enough time in the weight room as in years past due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year was also a learning curve for the Falcons who had just four seniors, along with a lot of first-year players, including incoming senior Marshall Dodge.

Scotts Valley tied for third with a 3-3 record in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division and finished with a 7-3 overall record, failing to qualify for the Central Coast Section postseason.

Walters—entering his 23rd season with the program—said he’s feeling a lot more comfortable going into 2023. Especially after his offensive line received a huge boost with Dodge leading fellow senior linemen James Bullock, Brody Robbins, Billy Baldwin and Lorenzo Gonzalez in the trenches.

“If we stay healthy and things go our way, we’re gonna be real competitive,” Walters said. 

The Falcons are stacked with 19 seniors in 2023, including Dodge, who will use his strength to open up running lanes on offense, while using his speed at the edge on defense to get to the quarterback.

Last year was a huge learning curve for the then first-year player who sometimes struggled on the field.

“Sometimes I forgot the play, I’d just hit someone,” Dodge said.

Dodge worked his tail off in the offseason and is now fully up to speed when it comes to football knowledge. His mission is to be recognized as lineman of the year and earn a spot on the all-league first team.

“We’ve been training in the weight room full time, thanks to our coaches here that set that up,” he said. “But I’m definitely getting my head wrapped around the game.”

Walters knew the game was new to Dodge, but his intelligence in the classroom helped him pick it up quickly.

“[Dodge is] just a workaholic,” Walters said. “You should see him in the weight room, it’s crazy.”

Falcons senior running back and linebacker Niko Iles will help lead a committee of running backs that includes junior Eli Velez, who made a name for himself last season by moving up the depth chart and onto the field.

“This year I think we’re gonna make a difference, we’re going to show the county that Scotts Valley’s something special this year,” Iles said. “I’m excited to help these boys out and them help me out to proceed in our football careers.”

Iles saw a change in mentality as soon as the Falcons stepped on the field for summer ball and even during the spring.

“All these boys have a crazy amount of talent, but they also have the effort,” he said. 

Walters called junior linebacker Jess Ringel one of those special players that has the skills to be an NCAA Division I recruit, while Quinn Turowski and Brady Siechen will be a major threat on the outside going both ways as a receiver and defensive back.

Turowski has big goals, including a CCS title and surpassing 1,000 yards receiving. He’s also eager to play in what might be a well-balanced offense with senior quarterback Lucas Ringel under center.

“I feel like we’re gonna be both very talented on the receiving side and on the running side,” Turowski said.

The Falcons players went on camping trips together to build team bonding, which Dodge said will lead to better communication on the field. He said they’re starting to morph together and it also helped having strength and conditioning as an elective class.

“You’re always there. You’re always getting back with the team the whole year round,” he said.

Scotts Valley will compete in the Mission North Division—formerly known as the Mission Division—against St. Francis of Watsonville, Watsonville, Monte Vista Christian, Seaside, North Monterey County and Santa Cruz.

During the offseason, PCAL decided to split up the Mission Division into North and South (Alisal, Carmel, King City, North Salinas, Pacific Grove, Rancho San Juan and Soledad) to make it somewhat of an easier trek for teams to compete within the league.

Iles believes playing schools closer to the area is beneficial because they’re not spreading out as far and are already familiar with their divisional opponents.

“We don’t have to guess,” he said. “We know what’s coming for us and we know how to plan for it.”

But prior to the start of league play, a majority of the Falcons already have Sept. 14 circled on their calendars in what they hope will be redemption against Soquel High.

“This group is pretty confident, and like I said, if we stay healthy, we should be pretty competitive in all the games we play,” Walters said.

Juan Reyes
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.

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