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Vallivue wide receiver Casey Cope (2) catches a pass near the sidelines during the game against Middleton on Oct. 25, 2019.

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The Idaho Press is counting down to the start of the 2020 high school football season by spotlighting all of the teams and the top players from the Treasure Valley. Next up is Vallivue.

For Vallivue High football coach Layne Coffin, 2020 will be about quality over quantity.

Coming off an 8-3 season and a trip to the 4A state quarterfinals, the Falcons will have a small varsity roster. But despite the numbers, the Falcons’ 14th year coach calls the group “one of the most good bunch of kids I’ve had.

“They love to play the game,” Coffin said. “We’ve only got 10 or 11 seniors and our team’s not going to be that big, but we’ve got a lot of quality. We might have 24 or 25 kids, but I think we can find a spot for everybody to to play, and play a lot.”

The Falcons will be looking to replace plenty of their skill positions, including four-year starting quarterback Lan Larison, last year’s Southern Idaho Conference Player of the Year who rushed for over 2,300 yards. Also graduating for the Falcons is 1,400-yard rusher Carson Child.

But among the four starters returning on offense for the Falcons is a pair of first-team all-conference offensive linemen in seniors Dominick Conlon and Matt Bolton. They helped the Falcons rush for 380 yards per game as a team last year.

“They’ve been there, they’ve done that, they’re really good players and high-energy players,” Coffin said. “With the guys that we’re putting in, they’re always willing to help. When you got guys like that, it means a lot.”

Junior Casey Cope, who was primarily a wide receiver last season, moves over to the quarterback position, where he did take some snaps from last year. Cope had 74 yards on 3-for-9 passing, with a pair of touchdowns in games against Emmett and Columbia.

Cope, who also ran for 120 yards, was the Falcons’ leading receiver last year with 28 catches for 320 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’re going to enhance the things Casey does well and kind of build the offense around that,” Coffin said. “Lan did some fantastic things, but Casey’s got some skills and we’re going to try and build around those things. He’s a really good all-around athlete.”

Coffin is hoping that Cope will have a number of passing targets, including returning starter Lincoln Marler. Other targets could include Kip Childs, who came up from the junior varsity team toward the end of last season, and Santiago Diaz, the running back who can also help in the receiving game.

“He played some strong safety and some receiver for us last year,” Coffin said about Diaz. “He reminds me a lot of (former Vallivue running back) Jerred Monnier. They could be twins.”

Defensively, the Falcons return first-team All-SIC defensive lineman Braydon Ary, who had an eye-popping 15.5 sacks and four forced fumbles for the Falcons last year. He wrecked havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Linebacker Tanner Buckley, who led the Falcons with 114 tackles as a junior, also returns.

In the defensive backfield, juniors Cope and Elias Baez both return to help lead a unit that Coffin says will be young. But there were several players who Coffin said he’s highlighted to step in for that group.

“We had a really good (junior varsity) team and we have some good athletes that are going in that are going to play those spots,” Coffin said.

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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