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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Valoaga really stands out

  • By Loren Ledin

  • Posted July 15, 2010 at 10:49 p.m.

  • By doing nothing, Jeremiah Valoaga has made this a successful summer for the Channel Islands High football program and head coach Gary Porter.
    OK, it’s not as if the 6-foot-7 tight end/defensive end has been standing by idly. The Raiders’ junior-to-be boasts star potential as outsized as his 101-plus-inch reach and is working dilligently to maximize the progress.
    Valoaga has attended a number of top-shelf football camps since the close of the school year, including Lane Kiffin’s at USC, the Nike showcase and the National Underclass Combine last weekend at Cathedral High in Los Angeles. He’s honing his skills and meshing gears with his Channel Islands teammates in a plethora of 7-on-7 passing leagues and tournaments.
    But what truly has set the tone for the Raiders’ program, at least for the next two seasons, is Valoaga opting for the status quo. He’s staying put, eagerly anticipating his role into turning Channel Islands into a top contender in the Pacific View League.
    “I’m really looking forward to the season,” Valoaga says. “We weren’t happy with how things ended last year. We want to prove to everybody that we have a good team.”
    After winning just eight games in four previous seasons, Channel Islands started 5-0 last season, but ended up 0-5 in the Pacific View League race.
    Valoaga wants to complete Channel Islands’ turnaround, which comes as great news for Porter. In this era of open enrollment and high-powered high school programs, Valoaga could take his skills to virtually any school of his choosing.
    “I was very concerned,” said Porter. “He’s good enough to play anywhere. He’s such a great leader for this program. Not for what he says, but by the hard work he puts out. Without him here, I’d be worried what that would mean for the rest of our players.”
    No need to find out. Valoaga, who also plays volleyball and basketball for the Raiders, is staying home.
    “This is where I’m most comfortable,” Valoaga said. “I’m playing with my friends.”
    The teenager called “Miah” by his teammates could be the centerpiece in Channel Islands’ offense. Projected starting quarterback Malcom Allen is happy to have him as a primary option.
    “He’s a big target,” Allen said in admiration. “We’ve been working hard to get our chemistry down. We’re making good progress.”
    Porter knows a top talent when he coaches one.
    “We don’t want to put all the pressure on him to lead the offense,” Porter said. “We know he’s going to get a lot of attention from opposing defenses. At the same time, we realize we need to get him the ball.”
    By the time he graduates, Valoaga is expected to be one of the top collegiate prospects in Southern California.
    The tight end of Polynesian descent was the Raiders’ top receiver as a sophomore, notching 42 receptions for 538 yards and three touchdowns. His package of size, quickness and leaping ability makes him a nightmare matchup for opposing defensive backs.
    Despite the soaring potential, Valoaga appears grounded by down-to-earth perspective.
    “My parents have always taught me to be humble in whatever I do,” Valoaga said. “I know I’ve got a long ways to go to reach my potential. It’s all about hard work.”
    Valoaga’s elite skills-set was evident last spring on the volleyball court, too.
    Though he played the sport for the first time just two years ago, Valoaga emerged as one of the top talents in the area in piling up 198 kills and an astounding 222 blocks. He also led his team in digs with 321.
    “I like volleyball a lot,” Valoaga said. “But football is still my favorite sport.”
    As Valoaga looks to the future, he already has a favorite college team. “I like UCLA,” he said.
    Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel, undoubtedly, will smile upon hearing that.
    In the meantime, it’s Channel Islands’ time to be happy.

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