Golden Valley senior Josh Valano will make his first varsity football start at quarterback tonight.
Valano is ready, but he won’t be going it alone. He’s confident in his offensive line and comfortable handing off to running back KJ Maduike.
“He’s my guy,” Valano said of Maduike. “He’s been my guy since freshman year. We’ve always had a chemistry.”
“I’m really looking forward to what our new offense can do,” he said. “Last year we had a lot of seniors, and they all left, so we’ll see what we can do with our chemistry. It’s going to be pretty exciting and hopefully it builds throughout the season.”
2016 football camp series: Golden Valley
When Golden Valley played Antelope Valley last season, the Grizzlies won, 23-6. But coach Dan Kelley isn’t letting his guard down just yet.
“We played them last year and they run a real sophisticated offense and defense,” Kelley said. “They’re one of the best programs in (the Antelope) Valley and one of the best programs in their division, so we’re taking them real seriously.”
One of the Lopes biggest bodies is University of three-star Oregon-commit Moses Robinson-Carr, who checks in at 6 feet, 5 inches, 225 pounds. He plays at tight end and on the defensive line.
University of Colorado-bound Morrell Osling III, another three-star recruit, will also be a threat. Last year, he passed for 2,238 yards and rushed for another 711 (against Golden Valley, he passed for 220 yards and rushed for 123). He had 27 total touchdowns on the season.
The Grizzlies defense will have to work overtime to keep the two contained.
“We count on our defense to keep us in games,” Kelley said. “We’re going to rely on our size and our speed on the defensive line, especially this week against Antelope Valley.”
Moorpark (0-0) at Canyon (0-0)
The offenses are looking to make a statement in this game.
For Moorpark, it’s about the guys who move down the field. Tight end Bentley Hanshaw, a Brigham Young University commit, and wide receiver Zane Pope are both dangerous in the passing game.
And of course there’s senior quarterback Tyger Goslin, a transfer from Chatsworth High School. In his junior year at Chatsworth, he passed for 2,730 yards and 29 touchdowns. He ran for 1,359 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“We need to limit the run game,” said Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez. “With such an athletic quarterback, we need to keep him in the pocket and make him work.”
Canyon’s statement is in the form of a strong offensive line that returns All-SCV lineman Colton Costanza and seniors Tim Huss and Justin Hamalainen.
Quarterback Miles Fallin can take some comfort in the line, as well as the fact that he has a go-to receiver in Camden Apsay, who led the team last year with 397 yards on 29 receptions.
“They’re very well coached,” Gutierrez said of Moorpark. “They have a legendary coach (Tim Lins) and a tough, hard-nosed program.
“We want to stay consistent from the first game. We’ve just have to perform. We’re back, and we’re here to work.”
Saugus (0-0) vs. Santa Barbara (0-0), at COC
This is a matchup of overhauled offenses.
Santa Barbara graduated 3,000-yard passer Brent Peus and two of its top three receivers.
Senior wideout Christopher Jellison returns after catching 50 passes for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns. Santa Barbara’s backup quarterback in 2015, now-senior Jeremiah Nicholson completed 3-of-8 passes on the year, a season in which the Dons finished a deceptive 6-4.
2016 football camp series: Saugus
They lost each time by nine points or less, finishing third in the competitive Channel League behind Ventura and Buena and missing the playoffs.
Saugus won its final three games in Foothill League play to finish second and earn an automatic playoff spot.
Preleague play wasn’t as pretty, though.
The Centurions lost three in a row — two of which came against Buena and Ventura — and finished 2-3.
Getting off on the right foot in 2016 falls largely on a returner-laden defense and to Saugus junior Nathan Eldridge, who is expected to take over under center after the graduation of 2015 Foothill League Player of the Year Louis Eusebi (1,468 passing yards, 800 rushing yards).
Eldridge battled junior Elijah Gragas for the job in fall camp, and Centurions coach Jason Bornn made it clear both can throw and run.
Junior Quinn Sheaffer is slated to serve as the main running back after not carrying the ball on varsity in 2015.
West Ranch (0-0) at Simi Valley (0-0)
Everyone knows about West Ranch’s 3-7 campaign last year, but the Wildcats will attempt to make everyone forget about it when they face off against Simi Valley tonight.
West Ranch senior quarterback Wyatt Eget will begin his first season as the No. 1 signal-caller. In nine games last year, Eget passed for 351 yards and rushed for 53 yards.
First-year Wildcats coach Chris Varner said he tailored the offense to Eget’s strengths, so expect to see him at the center of attention.
Defense may be the strongest area for the Wildcats tonight. Seniors Tristan Georgio and Jordan Fortner return at linebacker and sophomore twins Jovan and Ryan Camacho make their varsity debuts at cornerback, with senior Hunter Anderson at safety.
Anderson made 42 tackles last year.
After playing slot receiver and safety last year, Simi Valley’s Cole Hauptman has made the transition to quarterback.
The Pioneers return seniors Luc Moore (123 rushing yards in 2015) and Alex Olarte (71 rushing yards) at the top of the running back depth chart, with each looking to prove himself at the varsity level.
Simi Valley finished 3-8 last season. It lost, 37-21, loss to Saugus in the 2015 season opener.
Trinity Classical Academy (0-0) vs. Silver Valley of Yermo (0-0), at St. Francis High (La Canada)
The Knights’ offense will be constructed differently tonight than it was at the beginning of fall camp. Valencia High transfer Phineas Yi, a sophomore, will be under center, and last year’s starting quarterback Tyler Lee will play tight end.
Yi began his freshman year at Chaminade, according to Trinity coach Les Robinson, before transferring to Valencia and sitting out football last season.
2016 football camp series: Trinity
He has a “rifle of an arm,” Robinson said. And Lee, at 6 feet, 3 inches and 200 pounds, provides a wiry target.
Trinity’s opponent will also look different — and that’s from play to play.
Robinson said the tape shows Silver Valley running a spread offense and a power I.
“We’re going to make our adjustments on the field,” Robinson said. “We weren’t able to glean that much from the film. We just know they run multiple offenses.”
The Knights’ focus this week in practice, on the other hand, was simple.
“We’re just trying to do our thing, run perfect plays, be as perfect as we possibly can,” Robinson said.
Trinity junior receiver Ryan DeMarois will miss the game due to concussion protocol, according to Robinson. A hip injury forced DeMarois to miss all but one game in 2015.
Santa Clarita Christian (0-0) at Horizon Christian Academy of San Diego (0-0)
Cardinals coach Garrick Moss doesn’t expect to catch Horizon by surprise this season, and it’s not hard to see why.
SCCS ran out to a 28-7 halftime lead over the Panthers in 2015 before pulling farther ahead for a 49-7 win.
“They’re going to be prepared for us since we went down there last year and got them,” Moss said. “It’s their home opener, it’s week zero, everybody’s trying to start the season off the right way, so we feel it’s going to be a good test for us.”
The Panthers struggled overall last season, finishing 2-8. But Moss believes there’s talent in the program.
“They have some good kids,” Moss said. “Their quarterback is an unbelievable athlete.”
Moss was referring to junior Thomas Marcus, who was listed last season at 6-4 and 170 pounds.
The Cardinals will also rely heavily on their quarterback, second-year starer Tristan Miller.
The now-senior led the CIF-Southern Section East Valley Division with 3,476 passing yards last year. He threw 41 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
Miller, a receiving corps headlined by seniors Jacob Moss and Tyler Kalinske and a strong offensive line have Division 13’s No. 4-ranked team riding high entering the season.
The Cardinals, though, will have to overcome a three-hour drive on gameday right off the bat.
“It’s a big trip, kind of leaving early, fighting traffic, getting out of the long car ride and then having to check into a hotel and get prepped for the game and head over to the stadium,” Moss said. “It’s not easy to travel that far, but our guys last year really took a business-like approach to it, and we’re going to do that again.”