By ERIC X. VICCARO
URBANA — Tradition returns to the football field this week as venerable state powerhouse Valle Catholic travels three-plus hours to Skyline.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Longtime Valle Catholic head coach Judd Naeger expects a more competitive game this year — much different from the Warriors’ 48-0 whitewash in 2020. They outgained Skyline 486-257 in total yards.
“Skyline proved to be a very good team who just happened to not play up to their potential versus us last year,” Naeger said. “They only lost by eight points to the eventual Class 1 champion (Windsor).”
The Tigers will return plenty of firepower on offense, with Dylan Mountain an all-state quarterback. They also have speed at wide receiver.
Naeger said Skyline will run a spread offense, and both 3-4 and 4-2 alignments on defense.
The biggest obstacle Valle Catholic could face this week is travel. The distance between the Valle Desert and Skyline High School is 214.8 miles, with an one-way trip lasting on average three hours, 37 minutes.
“The trip will certainly be something we need to manage,” Naeger said. “We will get a charter bus, leave early, and make a couple of stops.”
Naeger said the players are brimming with excitement to get the season started.
“We have put in a lot of good work in the weight room and practice field,” the coach commented. “This group has a quiet confidence, and a chip on their shoulder. We are excited to see what personality this team takes on.”
Valle Catholic is coming off a nine-win season, the school’s first since the Missouri State High School Activities Association bumped them from Class 1 to Class 3.
Last Friday night, the season began with a four-team scrimmage at Dragon Field in Ste. Genevieve versus the in-town rival Dragons, St. Pius X and Park Hills Central.