With three Foothill League teams done with preleague and the other three finishing this past Friday, it’s time to examine what we’ve learned so far before league play begins Sept. 28.
Canyon: Preleague record 1-3
The Canyon football team faced stiff competition in its non-conference schedule, including a season-opener against San Fernando, last year’s Los Angeles City Section Division 1 champions.
While the losing record isn’t ideal, Cowboys head coach Rich Gutierrez scheduled tough opponents for a reason. He wants his players to get better by playing better competition.
“Absolutely it was by design,” Gutierrez said of his team’s schedule. “I generally schedule people I know that are going to get after it. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t, but adversity is very difficult to emulate. Like I tell my boys, ‘You’re going to take your lumps but you have to learn to get back up and compete.’”
Canyon has one more test against Royal before conference play begins against last year’s Foothill League champions Valencia.
Golden Valley: Preleague record 1-4
Since head coach Dan Kelley took over the Golden Valley program in 2014, the Grizzlies haven’t had a losing record in their non-conference schedule until now.
It was brutal five-game stretch for Golden Valley, who were outscored 183-76, including a 62-7 loss to Antelope Valley in the second game of the season.
Golden Valley’s lone victory came in Week 3 against Division 4 Crespi, a 21-14 overtime thriller. As the season has progressed, quarterback Zack Chevalier has gotten more comfortable under center. After throwing two interceptions in his first three games, Chevalier hasn’t turned the ball over in the last two contests.
Chevalier will have to continue to improve quickly, because it doesn’t get easier for Golden Valley, which faces undefeated West Ranch in its first league game.
Hart: Preleague record 2-2
Hart has a similar preleague schedule most years, often playing teams it’s faced the year prior.
This season was no different, as four of the five teams on the docket were opponents Hart faced in 2017.
Hart opened 2017 and 2018 with a loss to Downey before rebounding with a win against Arcadia in the second game. The Indians defeated St. Bonaventure last year but lost to the Seraphs this season.
While the offense has started to pick up the past couple of weeks behind quarterback Zach Johnson, the defense has been inconsistent. The Indians have allowed an average of 31.8 points per contest, which is a major cause for concern considering the other teams in the Foothill League have explosive offenses.
Saugus: Preleague record 4-1
Saugus started the season hot before cooling off in its last preleague game, losing 17-13 to Division 2 St. Francis.
With four blowout victories under their belt, the Centurions were not battle-tested. Despite the loss, the game against St. Francis was a good barometer and should help prepare Saugus for league play.
The Centurions have shown they can flourish through the air or on the ground, especially with senior quarterback Cole Gallagher at the helm. Gallagher has thrown for 676 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 158 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground.
Valencia: Preleague record 2-2
While Canyon faced a tough preleague slate, Valencia undoubtedly had the toughest schedule of any Foothill League team.
Valencia opened the season with a 17-14 loss against Arbor View, the fifth-ranked team in Nevada according to MaxPreps.com. After beating Silverado handily, the Vikings lost to Division 3 Sierra Canyon, then defeated Division 2 Loyola.They close out preleague against Calabasas, the No. 121 team in the country according to MaxPreps.com, and the only team to beat Valencia during the season last year.
With star running back Jayvaun Wilson sidelined, the Vikings have relied on a committee featuring juniors Nick Pham and Jake Santos and senior Luring Paialii.
Santos and Paialii were added to the injury list last week and missed the game against Loyola, leading to more time for junior Aidan Baptiste. Valencia’s depth has been crucial so far and will continue to be relied upon if the injury bug decides to stick around for league play.
West Ranch: Preleague record 5-0
For the second consecutive season, West Ranch finished its non-conference schedule undefeated. However, this West Ranch team looks a lot different than last season.
Last year, the Wildcats finished 1-4 in league play after rolling through preleague. This year has a different feel as the offense, defense and special teams have all been playing exceptionally well.
Ryan Camacho set a school record in rushing yards and is tied for first in the state with 16 rushing touchdowns. His brother, Jovan Camacho, already has more receiving touchdowns this year than he had all of last season. Quarterback Weston Eget has looked sensational, throwing for 982 yards and 11 touchdowns with only one interception.The Wildcats don’t look like they are slowing down anytime soon, and will attempt to begin league play with a victory against the Grizzlies.