For Canyon High defensive end and guard Jacob Lopez, Friday nights are near-sacred.
“Every Friday is like a little heaven I get,” Lopez said. “Let’s say like I get married, I’ll feel happy. And same when I have my first baby. I’ll be happy. I get (that feeling) on Friday. Every Friday night I get this, I just love it so much.”
The Cowboys are bringing enthusiasm into tonight’s matchup against Moorpark High, the only team that defeated Canyon in preleague last season.
But that’s all in the rearview mirror for the team.
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“Last year is last year and this is this year,” Lopez said. “It’s a whole different story. The more you look at the past the more you can’t look at the future.”
Lopez is part of an offensive line that’ll work to protect Shawn Gallagher, who will be getting his first start at quarterback at the varsity level.
Gallagher said that he’s “pumped” for the game and is confident in the o-line, which developed over the summer and was polished in last week’s scrimmage against Palmdale.
“Going into the scrimmage we were kind of shaky, just trust issues because obviously, it’s the first time working with these guys, but they’re a good unit,” he said. “They protect very well, they give me plenty of time in the pocket and they make good holes for the running backs to run through.”
In addition to having an arm that excels in the short passing game, according to coach Rich Gutierrez, Gallagher is a hard runner that fits nicely into a run-heavy offense.
Moorpark will begin this season without dual-threat quarterback Tyger Goslin, who now plays for Navy, a relief for the defense.
However, the Musketeers are still big up front. The Cowboys will attempt to counter that with their own size, but more so speed and technique.
“We can move,” Lopez said. “Move like receivers move. Our footwork is really nice and our hand placement can be very, very good. We can really ball up this year.
But above all, channeling the jitters of a season opener and getting settled quickly will be the biggest difference-maker for the eager Cowboys.
“I’m not fighting for me, I’m fighting for the kid next to me,” Lopez said. “You have to be focused before you go into a game because if you’re not focused, you’ve already lost.”