This year, Canyon High showed some serious potential.
At the front of the pack was the girls basketball team, which made it to a CIF-Southern Section final for the second year in a row and did so with two juniors leading the way in Rachel Bowers and Talia Taufaasau.
Fellow junior Gabby Sanchez was also on that team, and she showed she was capable in multiple sports, making a huge leap in her throwing abilities on the track and field team with a CIF Division 2 title in discus and a state meet appearance in the same event.
On the boys side of the track team, Steven Arrington repeated as the Foothill League 100-meter dash champion and was a threat in the 200 as well. Arrington helped Canyon track retain its place as the dominant track and field program in the Foothill League, winnings its eighth straight league crown.
Another dual-sport athlete, Camden Apsay tried his hand at track for the first time and was one of the most talented long and triple jumpers in the league in addition to being a key player on the basketball team.
With the football team, he nabbed 50 catches for 801 yards and half a dozen touchdowns. Defensively, he intercepted four passes and had 23 tackles.
Both the boys and girls volleyball teams took a step forward, sharpening young talent for future years. Shea Stanford led the boys team and tallied 225 kills on the season, while Sasha Thomas-Oakley energized her team with long volleys and aggressive hitting.
Yvan Yomba, a senior on the basketball team, set an example for his young peers by not just relying on his height to make an impact. He averaged 12 points per game for the Cowboys.
On the pitch, Claudia McKail set up plays for her team and scored some goals of her own – 13 to be exact. The girls soccer team was also backed by freshman goalkeeper Aubrey McKessy.
Junior Melissa Spencer stepped up for the softball team once again. With only four errors at shortstop, she had 25 RBIs and 10 extra base hits. The Cowboys were on the bubble of making the playoff cut, but fell short at the last minute.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t be back next year, just like the rest of the Canyon teams. With a strong junior class of athletes and some promising underclassmen, the exciting moments of this year can only be multiplied.
The Cowboys made another impressive CIF-Southern Section playoff run. They should be the Foothill League favorite entering 2017-18.
Boys track and field
Canyon won its eighth straight Foothill League title and 14th in the last 16 years.
The Cowboys won only two league matches, but they were in just about all of them. Shea Stanford and Regan Marsh led the way.
Canyon rushed out to a 4-1 start to the 2016 season, highlighted by an epic 21-20 win over Highland of Palmdale on a blocked extra point. The Cowboys went 0-5 in league.
Finishing third in the Foothill League at 4-6, Canyon was just short of getting a playoff berth.
The dual-sport athlete excelled in football, basketball and track and field. On the gridiron, he had 50 catches for 801 yards and six touchdowns. He was a top long jumper and triple jumper for the track team.
The senior placed first in the 100- and 200-meter dash at league finals, marking his second consecutive year as league champion in the 100.
He started at tackle on offense and nose guard on defense. Coach Rich Gutierrez noted his “catlike reflexes.”
At the end of the season, Stanford had 225 kills, 63 digs and 22 aces and played a major role in Canyon’s improvements.
At 6-foot-6, he averaged 12 points per game and used his height to block shots on the defensive side.
She expanded her game this season, averaging 13 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, using her 6-foot-3 height to her advantage.
With 13 goals and one assist, she led the team in scoring and was a playmaker for the Cowboys soccer team.
She had 25 RBIs with 10 extra base hits this spring and was 6-for-6 on stolen base attempts.
Sanchez took her throwing abilities to the next level, making it to the CIF state meet in discus and winning a Division 2 title. She was also a contributor on the basketball team.
With the ability to make a basket from just about anywhere, Taufaasau averaged 11.3 points and 3.8 assists per game.
She was on the track team, too, but she really shined in volleyball. The sophomore was one of the most aggressive hitters on the team.
Canyon advanced to a CIF title game for the second straight year, this time falling to Valencia, 50-45, in the Division 1AA title game in Anaheim on March 4. The Cowboys won their first-round game in the D2 state playoffs before falling to Orangewood Academy of Garden Grove, 53-47, in the second round.