Brian Hamilton proved to be the perfect panacea for what ailed Valencia High.
With Manuel White slowed by a viral infection, with linebacker-fullback Ray Cassady bowed by the flu, it was the senior quarterback who towed the Vikings to victory over Highland on Friday night in a nonleague opener at Canyon High.
Hamilton, himself recovering from a hip flexor injury, completed nine of 17 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores during a 42-14 victory.
White, who gained 2,189 yards last season, entered the 1998 season as one of the region's most touted players and was listed among the top 50 juniors by one national publication.
Against Highland, he gained 72 yards in 18 carries, including a three-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
"[Opponents] are going to overlook other people because of Manuel," Valencia Coach Brian Stiman said. "That would be a mistake."
Cassady caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Hamilton and Mike Wellington added a 34-yard scoring reception as Valencia broke a 14-14 tie with 28 consecutive points.
Highland, which led the Golden League in passing last season, began its struggle to find a replacement for graduated Camy Smith.
Anthony Herrera and Jeremey White combined to complete two of 11 passes for eight yards. Herrera, the starter, completed none of his six passes and had three intercepted.
Each interception resulted in a touchdown, including a 57-yard return by linebacker Adrian Dyrness for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Junior Kevin Morris of Highland rushed 14 times for 139 yards and scored on runs of 57 and 12 yards.
Brandon McElvaine added 88 yards in 17 carries but only 37 of their yards came after halftime.