Asked a simple question, Canyon High football coach Rich Gutierrez provided a simple answer.
Is Saugus High’s offense better than it showed in a 28-7 loss to Valencia last week?
“Absolutely,” Gutierrez said Thursday as his team prepares to play the Centurions on Friday night at College of the Canyons.
Saugus (7-1 overall, 2-1 in league) struggled against Valencia’s stout front seven and rangy, physical secondary, gaining 24 total yards by halftime.
But the Centurions had shown balance in its first-ever 7-0 start. Saugus is averaging 170 yards through the air and 147 on the ground, and one loss hasn’t changed its mentality.
Last week’s results: Valencia hands Saugus first loss of season
Cents offensive coordinator David Russell said it has been practice as usual this week, but some points of emphasis did emerge from last week.
“Our emphasis has been getting back to the basics,” Russell said, “just fundamentals, staying on blocks, running our feet, creating lanes for our running backs.”
And, he added, playing catch.
The Centurions managed just 105 passing yards, their second-lowest output of the season.
On the year, quarterback Nathan Eldridge has completed 51 percent of his passes for 1,361 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions — numbers that have caught Gutierrez’s eye.
“I like their quarterback,” he said. “He’s a playmaker.”
For Canyon (4-4, 0-3), it was the same old story last week against Golden Valley, in a 31-23 loss. The Cowboys played the Grizzlies close, but again left opportunities on the field.
“I want to be able to finish,” Gutierrez said.
Standout Canyon running back Brian Devereaux didn’t play against Golden Valley because he missed a practice, Gutierrez said.
The 5-foot-9-inch, 195-pound back, who’s rushed for 569 yards on just 67 carries (8.5 yards per touch), will play this week.
He and Henry Arellano give the Cowboys one of the league’s best one-two punches at the position.
Canyon has won five of its last seven games against Saugus.