CHICO, Calif. - Pleasant Valley Football went 4-1 in the COVID-shortened season, outscoring opponents 131 to 48.
This year, they return a lot of that experience.
"We've got a great group of seniors that are coming back," Head Coach Mark Cooley said. "Some of them have been playing on the Varsity level since they were sophomores. That's a huge plus for us."
Few players know the Vikings system as well as Ian Guanzon. He's prepping for his 3rd season as starting quarterback.
"If I call a play and it's wrong, he sees it he can check it and get us into an audible to do something else," Cooley said. "His arm strength is incredible. His legs are great."
"He plays baseball as well," Junior Linebacker Gabe Garretson said. "You can tell he wants to win. He's been very impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing him. He's gonna help take this team to state."
On defense, Cooley emphasizes speed.
"Having our linebackers be able to flow from sideline to sideline," he said. "Even our guys up front are pretty quick."
"During practice you can tell everybody's not afraid to hit anybody," Garretson said. "We always go 100%. I really think this team is going to be a hard match for anybody."
Of course the Almond Bowl is top of mind for Pleasant Valley. Another game is also circled on the calendar. The Vikings play Menlo-Atherton in the Honor Bowl.
"It's a game that focuses on the Wounded Warrior project," Cooley said. "All that money's going toward the Wounded Warrior Project. It's a big deal for our military so we're really honored to be in that game."
Senior Joseph Hughes' dad served in the Army. He says that game will be extra meaningful.
"It's on 9/11 as well, so I think it's a really cool experience to be a part of," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. It has good meaning. It represents our country. I'm just really excited to play."
Pleasant Valley kicks off the regular season on Aug. 27 on the road against Lassen.