Vale football undergoes changes, but Vikings always find themselves in the playoff chase

By René Ferrán

Over the next few weeks, SBLive Oregon will break down every 6A, 5A and 4A football team in the state in anticipation of a six-week season in March and April. Even if the season is postponed or canceled, we will continue to highlight more than a hundred teams and more than a thousand players in Oregon. Here’s our look at the Vale Vikings of the Class 4A/3A Greater Oregon League.

VALE TEAM PAGE

HEAD COACH

Jeff Aldred, sixth season (37-19) 

2019 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 6-5

League record: 3-1, second in 3A District 3

Playoffs: Beat Yamhill-Carlton 27-23 in first round; lost 58-6 to Santiam Christian in quarterfinals

ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS DEPARTED

RB/LB Jared Fulwyler, co-defensive player of the year, first team offense and defense

RB/LB Matt McBride, second team offense, first team defense

OL/DL Jacob Graviet, first team offense and defense

WR/DB TJ Speelman, first team offense and defense

DL Moritz Rusp, first team

QB/DB Colton Kesey, second team offense, first team defense

WR/DB Jason Ponce, second team offense and defense

RB Keegan Mizuta, second team

DL Brock Payne, honorable mention

PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR/LB John Wolfe, 6-2, 175, Jr.

Wolfe showed his versatility and athleticism on both sides of the ball last season, earning second-team all-league honors at linebacker (he had two interceptions) and honorable mention at receiver, where he caught 12 passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns. “He will play all over the field,” Aldred said.

OL/DL Matt Arritola, 6-0, 270, Sr.

A first-team all-league selection on offense last season, Arritola can play all three interior positions, although Aldred anticipates he’ll play mostly at center this season and become an integral part of the defensive line.

RB/LB Vicente Arteaga, 6-0, 200, Sr.

Arteaga was a second-team all-league linebacker as a junior. He’ll also receive time at fullback this season. “Vicente is a team leader,” Aldred said. “A fantastic inside linebacker who should compete for the league defensive player of the year.”

OL/DL William Tolman, 5-9, 215, Jr.

Tolman earned second-team all-league recognition on the offensive line last season. He’ll receive more snaps on defense this year. “Willy loves football and will be a key player up front for us,” Aldred said.

OL/DE Payton Kelso, 6-1, 210, Sr.

Kelso, an honorable mention all-league selection in 2019, can play anywhere on either line. With his athleticism, he can even fill in at linebacker, if needed.

WR/DB Trent Aldred, 6-0, 180, Sr.

Aldred has battled injuries during his career but earned all-league honorable mention in the secondary last season. He caught six passes on offense. “He has a very high football IQ and will play all over the field for us,” Coach Aldred said.

QB/DB Tanner Steele, 6-3, 175, Jr.

Steele started on the JV team last season and is slated to take over for Kesey, a two-year starter who threw for 1,135 yards and 17 touchdowns, ran for 432 yards and five scores and is now at Eastern Oregon playing receiver. Steele, who received mopup duty in four games as a sophomore, also will get plenty of action in the secondary. “He is a very competitive and smart football player,” Aldred said. “He will get better with each rep he gets and is also a running threat.”

RB/WR/LB Peter McBride, 6-0, 175, Jr.

Peter stepped into older brother Matt’s shoes in last season’s playoffs when the all-state linebacker was out with an injury. He’ll have the job to himself this season while also getting action at running back and receiver. “He is a physical player who can play multiple positions on both sides of the ball,” Aldred said.

OL/LB Jackson Schaffeld, 6-0, 190, Jr.

Schaffeld received action as part of the linebacker rotation last season and can play any of the five offensive line positions. “He will be a two-way starter for us,” Aldred said. “He is very versatile on the defensive side as well.”

OL/DL Brock Payne, 6-1, 250, Sr.

Payne can play anywhere on the defensive line and will get reps on the offensive front this season. “He is an extremely strong and physical player,” Aldred said.

OUTLOOK

The Vikings were the first of two Eastern Oregon League teams ousted from the 2019 playoffs by eventual 3A champion Santiam Christian, falling to the Eagles in the quarterfinals.

They graduated six all-state players (at 10 positions) and seven who earned first-team all-EOL honors, most of whom were three-year starters in the program.

Those departures opened a lot of starting positions for players who bided their time and developed positional versatility to find what playing time was available to them. Vale also battled the injury bug late in the season, which allowed players such as Peter McBride an early opportunity to show the coaching staff what they could do.

Had the 2020 season been played under normal circumstances, the Vikings likely still would have figured in the playoff race — Vale has missed the postseason twice (2001, 2011) since 1990 — but probably would have had some growing pains as they worked their way into the season. 

COACH SAID

“Our goal is always to be league champions. Our first-year starters need to step up and be ready for their chance. We also must be way more versatile offensively and play a physical style of football to be successful if we’re able to play this school year.” — Jeff Aldred

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