A new coach and a talented crop of seniors and sophomores have combined to make the Deer Valley High School boys varsity water polo team a formidable force in the Bay Valley Athletic League.
It took some time, but Kiel Olff was able to get the Wolverines to buy into his coaching system. The result: the team boasts a 5-0 league record. At first it was just a matter of getting everyone to realize their individual role on this team, Olff said. We have a lot of talent, everyone contributes and so far we've had pretty good results.
Senior sensation Aaron Wayne leads Deer Valley this season in its quest for a league title and a bid to the post-season North Coast Section tournament. Last season, the Wolverines finished third in league play and just missed making the playoffs.
Wayne, who heads to Stanford next fall on a full-ride swimming scholarship, leads Deer Valley with more than 60 goals in 15 games. Wayne's speed, power and accuracy make him the league's leading player, forcing other teams to alter their strategy when they take on his squad.
When we played Freedom last Wednesday, their game plan was to put everyone on (Wayne) to try and shut him down, Olff said. We're fortunate to have a lot of other players who stepped up for us and played really well.
Seniors Nick Moffatt and Chris Smith are among those who step into the leadership role behind Wayne. Each has scored roughly 30 goals apiece this season. Smith is also the team's best 2-meter defender. They both played a key role in helping Deer Valley earn the 14-11 victory over Freedom.
Against Heritage on Oct. 17, the Wolverines found themselves in a similar dilemma. Playing without Wayne, who was on an official recruiting visit, Deer Valley earned the 7-1 victory behind Moffatt's hot hand.
At first it was tough for them playing without their superstar. They were kind of worried, but they realized they're very talented and more than capable of playing well on their own, Olff said. Heritage is no slouch. It was a well-played game by both teams. But our defense came alive and they just couldn't get anything going.
Moffatt led the team with four goals against Heritage. Smith, David Leonard and Daniel Hoffman each found the back of the net once for Deer Valley. Sophomore goalie Trevor Dobbins tied a team record of 13 saves.
They were really stoked to get that win, Olff said. It helped the sophomores know it's not a one-man team. We have a lot of different weapons and a lot of good speed.
With just four games left on the schedule as of Wednesday morning, Olff anticipates the team can reach its goal of going undefeated in league play and at least reaching the NCS playoffs.