Photo By Steve Conner - #42 Braydon Ary
Written by Zack Kellogg
Easily the biggest answer needed from the Vallivue Falcons in 2020: how will the team replace star quarterback Lan Larison?
Larison was named last year’s 4A Player of the Year, rushing for over 2,300 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season while also getting it down through the air as well. The consistent leadership Larison brought from being a four-year starter might be the biggest key to what made him and the team’s success work.
Despite being the biggest name, Larison isn’t the only star the Falcons lost to graduation that left big shoes to fill.
Carson Child was another all-state player for the Falcons at running back and linebacker, the strong workhorse tough defenses and offenses needed for success. On the defense, Brad Cushman also earned an all-state mention on the defensive line, wreaking havoc in the backfield and plugging up holes in the middle.
Under 13-year coach Layne Coffin though, the team is looking to win its first state title since the school’s lone championship at the turn of the millennium in 1999.
With the biggest question on the offense of who will be the new man at quarterback, junior Casey Cope earned the starting job. Coffin said the offense will utilize Cope’s athleticism and big arm to keep opposing defenses off balance. The playstyle will be the same as when Larison was taking snaps, but with a more expanded passing game to create a deeper dimension to the offense.
Senior wide receiver Lincoln Marler garnered high praise from his head coach, with Coffin saying he expects Marler “to play at an all-conference level” in his final year with the Falcons with Gage Bayne slotted as the possible No. 2 receiver.
No word though on who will fill in for Child’s production as the starter in the backfield, but whoever earns the job will have a solid group of men in the trenches. Dominick Conlon is coming off a first-team all-state season on the offensive line, joined by all-conference lineman Matt Bolton and Anthony Cauldron, a newcomer who has shown big strides this offseason.
Defensively, Coffin did not mince words on players that will play the biggest part in the team’s success.
“Brayden Ary and James Streit on the defensive line need to give great effort. Josiah Sims and Tanner Buckley at inside linebacker will need to play sideline to sideline. Eliaz Baez, a returning defensive back, will need to keep helping our younger guys progress. Cope returning at safety brings experience and leadership,” Coffin said.
Comparable to the offense, two significant changes will be made to the defensive scheme: playing in Cover 4 as the primary coverage and with an odd front, giving the secondary eyes on the ball at all times while having the defensive line working in case of the run.
After falling to eventual state champ Kuna in the second round, the Falcons appear to be ready to retool and fight for the state title.