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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Channel Islands' Jeremiah Valoaga chooses to finish what he started

The senior tight end and three-sport athlete was wooed by other schools but chose to stick around to try to help the Raiders improve on a 2-8 season.

August 27, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

To stay or leave. An entire school was seemingly waiting to hear the decision of three-sport athlete Jeremiah Valoaga.

After his sophomore football season at Oxnard Channel Islands, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Valoaga said he was wooed by Westlake Village Oaks Christian. It was the worst-kept secret on campus.

"One day at school, it was, 'Are you leaving? Are you leaving?' I'm not sure," Valoaga said.

His football coach, Gary Porter, admitted, "I didn't think he was going to come back."

Valoaga said he had the approval of his parents to transfer, but in the end, he stayed.

"I feel more comfortable here," he said. "To me, if you start something, you have to finish it. I started with this team and I'm going to finish with this team."

True to his word, Valoaga is back for his senior year, playing tight end and trying to help the Raiders improve on a 2-8 season. He's also a starter for the basketball and volleyball teams.

His athleticism combined with the fact he doesn't turn 17 until November makes him an intriguing college prospect. He can get a lot stronger because he doesn't get the chance to spend time lifting weights except when volleyball season is completed.

"He has a great attitude, one of the most humble kids I've ever met," Porter said. "He's just a great presence on the field."

Channel Islands likes to run to Valoaga's side of the field to take advantage of his blocking and will look to get him the ball on short patterns.

His success in volleyball and ability to jump provides help in football when going up for passes. He spent all summer trying to get stronger and gain some weight.

Porter is just thankful Valoaga decided to stick around. Teammates appreciate his quiet leadership.

"He means everything to this program," Porter said. "We haven't had college coaches walking around this campus in quite some time, and everybody seems to think you need to go off to a private school to be able to get recruited, and he's kind of proven, you know what, you get into the classroom and do your work, with God-given talent, you can go from anywhere."

Whether in the weight room, on the practice field or in the huddle, Valoaga is looked upon to set the example for other players. The fact he gets to finish high school with classmates and teammates he started with four years ago makes the opportunity to help the program improve even more compelling.

"I think we can do a lot of good things," he said.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latsondheimer

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