By Grant Gordon
For The Signal
CANYON COUNTRY – On the heels of playing an arduous preleague slate in which it emerged below .500, perhaps there was some doubt as to the fortunes of the Valencia High football team and its continued dominance in the Foothill League.
Any doubts were quickly expunged Friday night.
In the same dominant fashion that it has showcased more often than not during its current run of nine straight league championships, the Vikings began their defense emphatically.
Parading to scores on six straight first-half drives, the Vikings blitzed host Canyon for a 47-7 league-opening victory at Canyon High’s Harry Welch Stadium.
“We wanted to pick it up from how we played the last few weeks,” said quarterback Davis Cop, whose Vikings improved to 3-3. “Once we kind of settled in after that first drive, things started to click.
“We were having fun; we were playing Viking football.”
Cop completed eight of 12 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns while adding a rushing score. Running back Jake Santos had a pair of touchdowns on the ground and 105 yards on only five carries. Both of their stat lines came in the first half alone as a running clock started ticking away in the second quarter and Vikings reserves began the second half.
“They’ve got some dudes – players,” said Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez, whose team fell to 2-4. “They kind of collapsed some things we were trying to do offensively.
“Defensively, I thought we made some mistakes and you can’t make mistakes against a team like that.”
The Vikings roared to a 21-0 lead after the first stanza and a 41-0 advantage to halftime, never looking back after scoring on their first drive.
“We had a tough preseason, we really did,” said Valencia defensive coordinator Robert Waters, whose squad was coming off an overtime loss to Calabasas. “We wanted to come out and do our thing and we were successful with that on both sides of the ball.”
It was Valencia’s 33rd straight league win and its 12th in a row over Canyon, all of them coming via double digits.
If there was a play that could be deemed a turning point in the lopsided affair, it was a first-quarter interception by Joshua Doyle.
Canyon drove into Valencia territory on the first drive of the game before turning it over on downs. Valencia then went three and out on consecutive incompletions.
But Doyle’s pick gave the Vikings the ball right back and it was off to the races thereafter.
Santos got the scoring going with a 16-yard score through the left side and later added a 54-yard run through the right in which he was untouched as the Vikings offensive line was phenomenal throughout.
“The O-line did a fantastic job,” Cop said.
Cop connected for a 49-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Koch (three catches for 83 yards) for a 14-0 lead, had a nine-yard scoring run up the gut, a 54-yard score to Jaden Holmes (three receptions for 92 yards) and another 28-yard hook-up with Holmes. The second Holmes score came with 4:07 to go for a 41-0 lead and brought about a running clock.
As the Vikings’ scoring parade marched on, the Valencia defense smothered the Canyon offense, which was held to just 43 total yards in the first half. Benjamin Seymour had two of the Vikings’ four sacks – all in the first half.
In the second half, an Aidan Baptiste 11-yard third-quarter touchdown run stood as the Vikings’ final score.
In the fourth quarter, Canyon quarterback Aydyn Litz hit James Mendibles for a 10-yard touchdown to break the shutout.
“We just gotta get back to work,” Gutierrez said.
As for Valencia, it will continue its march for a 10th straight league crown.
“Obviously, we’ve got to continue to improve,” Waters said. “It’s only going to get tougher.”
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