East County Sports

Former Monarchs in FCS championship

Former Monte Vista High star Sebastian Valdez (95) playing for Montana State. / AP

2022 EAST COUNTY ALUMNI

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

FRISCO, Texas —- The Team of the 2010s in Football Championship Series college football (formerly NCAA Division I-A) continues to roll into its second decade after top-ranked North Dakota State captured its ninth national championship over 11 seasons.

On Saturday (Jan. 8), the Bison waltzed to a 38-10 verdict over Montana State, with a pair of Monte Vista High products — defensive linemen Sebastian Valdez and Blake Schmidt — both holding front row seats for the Bobcats. Both can forever tell about the time their school played for a national crown.

Valdez is a starting defensive tackle as a freshman, helping Montana State to its first title game appearance since 1984 as the Bobcats’ defense did not allow more than 22 points in a game entering the finale.

As expected, Valdez saw little playing time as a frosh in August and September, but with a pair of D-line injuries on the team, the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder climbed the depth chart and gained a mid-season start.

Facing visiting Idaho State in Bozeman, Mont., on Oct. 23, Valdez shocked his Bobcats coaches with 10 tackles (including a victory-clinching sack on the game’s final play)  as the game’s second-leading tackler in a 27-9 stomping of the Bengals.

Valdez ended up starting the final eight games of the season, including the national championship game. He finished the season with 35 tackles, including five solo stops, three sacks, and two quarterback hurries.

Meanwhile, Schmidt was standing on the Montana State sidelines often as a redshirt frosh, but he still found the field in the title game and saw some good playing time during the season. He played in 13 games, recording 12 tackles, including five solos, and two of them for loss.

With the Monarchs, Schmidt, a team captain was a starting linebacker and tight end, captured the 2017 CIF San Diego Section Division IV championship as a junior — Monte Vista trounced San Diego High, 71-48 — then was Grossmont Valley League Conference Defensive Player of the Year and league champion as a senior in the 2018 season, gaining All-East County and All-CIFSDS recognition.

Montana State, despite falling in the Big Sky Conference regular-season finale against cross-state rival Montana, 29-10, remained hot upon entering the NCAA postseason.

The Bobcats whipped Tenn.-Martin, 26-7, then posted a second-half shutout of South Dakota State, 31-17. in the national semifinals. MSU finished 12-3 overall (7-1 Big Sky).

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