If validity was needed for West Ranch High football’s upswing, this week’s CIF-Southern Section polls can provide it.
Last week, the Wildcats were No. 10 in Division 9. This week, they’re No. 7.
“We’re keeping track (of the rankings), but right now it doesn’t make a difference,” said running back Jake Rice. “We have four games left. Right now we just want to win games. It doesn’t matter what our ranking is.”
The team got its first Foothill League win since Oct. 31, 2014, on Friday against Canyon High. The Wildcats narrowly defeated the Cowboys, 28-27, after Canyon failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
Rice scored all four touchdowns and broke the school’s single-game rushing yards record, running for 289 yards on the night.
“After that huge win, it was just a great rush for our confidence,” Rice said. “We knew all along that we were a lot better than we were before, and the win cemented that. Now that we’re ranked, we really think we have a shot to make a difference.”
With Friday’s win, the Cats have a winning record of 4-2 overall, 1-0 in league. This Friday, they face the undefeated Saugus Centurions. Although they’re realistic, the Wildcats are entering the game armed with a little bit more confidence than before.
“I’m not saying were a huge scare,” Rice said, “But people will prepare for us more. We’re not someone to look past.
“We’re not content. We want to win more. We’re not done winning games, and I think we can still compete.”
MORE football: West Ranch halts Cowboys 2-point attempt for win
Looking at the rest of the Foothill League, Valencia rose two spots in Division 2 to No. 6 after defeating Hart, 35-14.
In Division 6, undefeated Saugus is ranked second again, while Golden Valley, which lost to Saugus, 21-9, Friday, is No. 4 in Division 7.
Both Hart and Canyon were just outside the top ten in divisions 3 and 6, respectively.
The matchup of the Indians and Cowboys Friday has been switched to a 7 p.m. kickoff at College of the Canyons due to the game being broadcast on Fox Sports Prep Zone.
Boys Cross Country
West Ranch cross country is holding strong at No. 3, while Saugus was bumped up one spot to No. 7.
In Saturday’s 35th Running Center So Cal Invitational, the Wildcats captured first place out of 23 teams. Preston Pope ran the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes and 40 seconds, a season-best for the runner.
Jack Arnold and Justin Sherfey also had top-10 finishes, coming in at eighth (15:55) and ninth (15:59), respectively.
Saugus didn’t compete Saturday.
Both teams will race at the second league Foothill League meet of the season Thursday.
Girls Cross Country
Saugus pulled in at No. 2 in Division 2 again this week, one spot behind Claremont High.
Like the boys team, Saugus did not compete in a race this week.
West Ranch dropped out of the top 10.
The girls will also be competing Thursday at Central Park.
West Ranch fell two spots from No. 6 to No. 8 in this week’s Division 3 poll.
The Wildcats are still undefeated in league at 6-0 and are 19-7-1 overall.
Their next match is against Valencia (8-5, 5-1) on Thursday.
In Division 9, Santa Clarita Christian came in at No. 6, up two spots from last week’s No. 8 spot.
The Cardinals’ next match is against Trinity on Tuesday.