Selected by the league’s coaches, Valley College football has two players on the First-Team and five on the Second-Team.
By Edward Segal, Staff Writer
In a season that was defined by health and homecoming, the Monarchs pulled through and saw seven players named to a Pacific League all-conference team, led by tight end Dupree Fuller, Jr. and offensive lineman Taleem Thompson on the offensive First-Team.
After getting off to a rocky start this season, losing the first three games by double digits, Valley football (3-7, 2-3 SCFA Pacific) ended its season by claiming the Victory Bell and seeing Fuller Jr. and Thompson make the All-Pacific League First-Team for the offensive side of the honors. Additionally, quarterback Isaiah Johnson and utility man Vicente Zepeda received offensive Second-Team recognition, and outside linebacker Elijah Hudson, kick returner JaLani Ellison and cornerback Don Harrell made the defensive second team.
“They were the ones that showed up and came prepared for work and did everything that was expected of them,” said coach Lester Towns. “It does not reflect the guys that didn’t get all conference that had the talent to be all conference, but for the guys that made all conference, they deserved it, they earned it, it’s their award.”
Fuller Jr. ended the season second in receiving yards per game with 74.4 and tied with Santa Monica’s Tariq Brown for second in touchdowns this season with six, enough to be unanimously selected for a spot on the first-team.
“When I get the ball, I always think first down or touchdown, that’s always my mentality,” said Fuller Jr. “With that as my mentality, I broke a lot of tackles and never went down with my person.”
The biggest lesson Fuller Jr. said he will take with him as he looks for a university to play football for next fall is to play every game like it’s his last.
“Just take advantage of your time and always give 100% effort,” said Fuller. “You never know when it’s going to be your last snap or your last play.”
While players like Fuller Jr. showed up on the statsheet by gaining yards and scoring touchdowns, it would have been a way more difficult task without players like Thompson being there to clear the path for them.
“I learned [that] no matter how anything’s going, just do your part to the fullest. said Thompson. “Do whatever you can to assist your team in any way that you can, and regardless of any outside experiences, just stay focused and keep pushing and keep perfecting your craft.”
The sophomore offensive lineman, who made the second team for Pierce College in 2019, did the work that was necessary to pave the way for his teammates to shine.
“For me to get [on the] first team this year, that means a lot,” said Thompson. “It seems that I improved, at least in the eyes of other coaches.”
After starting to play the sport when he was four years old, the offensive lineman is looking at several colleges across the nation that he would like to take his talents to.
The other players on the all-conference teams should not be overlooked.
Johnson, initially a fourth string quarterback, was fifth in passing touchdowns with nine and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns with four. Hudson was tied for eighth in sacks on the season with four. Ellison received an 18-yard pass to set up the winning touchdown against Santa Barbara, and got the stop on fourth down to secure the win against Harbor College. Zepeda averaged 28 yards per game for 253 yards on the season. Harrell had nine tackles in six games.
“The guys that got all-conference [should] be happy, be blessed that [they] got all-conference, but the work doesn’t stop here,” said Towns.“[This accolade] is one tool that the guys who made the all conference team will use to help them get recruited, but I think the ultimate goal is them getting out of here.”