This holiday season, Santa Clarita Valley alumni will play in bowl games large and small. Some made news long before their game kicks off, and others already had stellar performances.
So, buckle up, maybe grab a gift to unwrap, and thank the college football gods because bowl season has begun.
Drew Wolitarsky, Canyon, (Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27, 4 p.m. ESPN)
Minnesota senior wide receiver and Canyon High product Drew Wolitarsky had the best season of his college career, and made waves throughout the Big 10. Wolitarsky led Minnesota in receiving with 61 receptions for 787 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games this season. The Golden Gophers also named Wolitarsky the team’s best wide receiver at its annual banquet in November.
Most recently Wolitarsky made waves off the field ahead of Minnesota’s Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl Matchup against Washington State in San Diego. On Dec. 15, he led a players’ boycott of “all football activities” after the university suspended 10 players indefinitely in connection with a sexual assault investigation, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The boycott was short lived, and resolved after further meetings between players and university administrators, but made national headlines nonetheless.
Heading into the Holiday Bowl, Wolitarsky and his Gopher teammates want to focus on football, according to Minnesota Daily.
Leon Jacobs, Golden Valley, (Cotton Bowl, Jan. 2, 10 a.m. ESPN)
Wisconsin fullback/linebacker Leon Jacobs had 33 tackles, one sack and one interception in 13 games this season. Jacobs, a redshirt junior, converted to fullback this spring, but does not have a rushing attempt this season.
Jacobs’ Wisconsin Badgers will play Mid-American Conference darling Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
In the most recent College Football Playoff Rankings, Wisconsin came in at No. 8 and Western Michigan at No. 15.
Tedric Thompson, Valencia, (Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29, 6 p.m. ESPN)
Thompson, a senior defensive back, had 58 tackles for Colorado, the fifth most on the team. Thompson also led the Pac-12 with seven interceptions, including two in Colorado’s 27-22 win over Utah Nov. 26, which sent Colorado to its conference championship game.
Thompson earned a trip to the East-West Shrine game and has been a big part of Colorado’s defense this season, so expect to see him when Colorado takes on Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl.
Trent Irwin, Hart, (Sun Bowl, Dec. 30, 11 a.m. CBS)
Hart grad Trent Irwin will play when Stanford competes in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30 at 10 a.m. Irwin played in all 12 games for Stanford this season and had season highs of seven catches against Colorado and UCLA.
Irwin led Stanford in receiving during his sophomore season with his 36 receptions for 437 yards and one touchdown. With Stanford star running back Christian McCaffrey sitting out the Sun Bowl, Cardinal receivers may have more chances.
Egidio DellaRipa, West Ranch; COC, (Independence Bowl, Dec. 26, 2 p.m. ESPN2)
DellaRipa transferred to Vanderbilt in 2015 after spending his freshman season playing at College of the Canyons. Now a junior offensive lineman, DellaRipa played his second straight season on Vanderbilt’s scout team.
Vanderbilt’s athletic website said “During the season he provided valuable contribution as a scout offensive lineman.”
Vanderbilt will play North Carolina State in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Linwood Foy, COC, (Citrus Bowl, Dec. 31, 8 a.m. ABC)
Foy, junior offensive lineman, transferred to Louisville from College of the Canyons in May and briefly played in each of Louisville’s first four games.
He did not play the rest of the season though. It’s unclear whether Foy will play for Louisville in the Citrus Bowl.
Rhett Almond, Hart
The sophomore BYU kicker and Hart product made a 27-yard field goal and three extra points in the Cougars’ 24-21 win over Wyoming on Wednesday in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Almond, who served primarily as a punter in 2015, bounced back from an early season benching and went 17-for-21 on field goal attempts this year, including a game-winning kick at Toledo on Sept. 30. Almond also made 39-of-40 extra point attempts.