One of the CCS’s football powerhouses won’t be in the playoffs this season. What happened?

SAN JOSE — The Central Coast Section football playoffs start next week. Weather permitting, Valley Christian coach Mike Machado plans to be on a golf course.

For the first time in 16 years, his Warriors will not be in the playoffs.

The San Jose powerhouse is 1-8 overall and 0-6 in the West Catholic Athletic League as it closes out its season Friday night against Bellarmine at San Jose City College.

Not counting the pandemic-shortened spring 2021 season when there were no playoffs, Machado’s teams have missed the postseason only twice previously (1997 and 2006).

In two seasons at Saratoga, he led the Falcons to a CCS final in 1995 and a championship in 1996.

His first team at Valley Christian in 1997 had a winning record but, competing then in one of the section’s “C” leagues, did not make the playoffs.

Twenty-one of his teams have reached a CCS semifinal, 14 have made it to a CCS final and eight have won a CCS championship.

What happened this year?

A lot of things, according to Machado. The pandemic shutdown decimated the program as families withdrew students from the school to seek opportunities elsewhere, many out of state.

Normally, the team honors about 25 players on Senior Night.

This season it saluted six.

“I knew this was coming just because of the amount of guys we lost during COVID,” Machado said this week, noting that the current senior and junior classes, plus last year’s senior class, were affected.

“We start right now nine or 10 sophomores per game and one freshman,” Machado added. “In the WCAL, that is a recipe for bad stuff.”

But, as Machado pointed out, the team has fought despite its limitations. Against Serra, he said, a 5-foot-6, 160-pound player had to start at center because of injury.

That’s more than 100 pounds lighter than some of Serra’s linemen.

“He’s a great kid and battles,” Machado said. “But the matchups were so bad in that game.”

Valley was no match for Serra.

But the Warriors only lost to St. Francis by a touchdown, were tied with Mitty 21-21 at halftime before losing 35-21 and had a chance to beat Riordan.

“My statement through all of this to everybody is our guys have put their stuff on, walked on the field and battled for four quarters every single time we’ve had the opportunity to do so,” Machado said. “We’re just so young and so inexperienced.”

Will it be better next season?

One year after not fielding a JV team because of low participation numbers, Valley’s JV team is 5-3 and its freshman team is 8-1 this season.

Ten players who might have been on JV during a normal season were promoted this fall to varsity, Machado noted.

The cupboard hasn’t been completely devoid of talent. Sophomore lineman Champ Taulealea (6-3, 335) has offers from Texas, Cal, Arizona, Colorado and San Jose State, and senior tight end Tyler Bourland is a three-star prospect with offers from Nevada and Northern Colorado.

But the roster could have been stronger.

The top player from the current senior class, five-star wide receiver Jurrion Dickey, transferred to Menlo-Atherton last summer.

The team’s fullback had to stop playing because of a third concussion, and a lineman decided to leave the program early in the season.

“It’s just one thing after another,” Machado said.

The hope for next season is a repeat of history. After finishing 3-7 in 2006, Valley went 7-3-1 in 2007 and reached the CCS playoffs.

A year after that, the Warriors lost in a CCS final to Bellarmine.

When the season ends Friday, Machado, 60, said the golf course and getting ready for next year are on his to-do list.

“I’ve got a young coaching staff,” Machado said. “Great guys. We’re going to start putting together a plan — we’ve already started it really — for the off-season.”

If the plan falls into place, Machado’s program just might return to familiar terrain next year.

The playoffs.

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