Signal Sports’ 2018 Year in Review

SCCS boys basketball holds its CIF championship trophy after beating Argonaut 78-66 in the Division 5 Championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on March 24. Photo courtesy Darcy Brown

By Haley Sawyer
and Diego Marquez
Signal Staff Writers

2018 was a year of milestones for teams and athletes across the Santa Clarita Valley. The sports staff at The Signal is grateful to have helped document all of the triumphs and memorable moments throughout the year and is excited to see what 2019 brings.

Here’s a look at 10 stories, in no particular order, that made 2018 a year to remember for SCV sports:

Hart girls volleyball has program-first

The Indians had a milestone season, starting with the first game of Foothill League play. Hart swept Valencia for the program’s first-ever win in the Vikings’ gym, and the momentum only kept going from there.

The team went on to achieve the first undefeated league championship season in program history and only dropped one set along the way. The Indians beat Saugus for the league title.

“It starts years in the making,” coach Mary Irilian said after the title-winning match. “So if you think about all the times starting from freshman to groom them, to get them to be in the mindset to play competitively on a varsity team, it’s been a long road.”

Three Hart players also broke records in the 2018 season: Kylie Mattson set a single-season assist record, Zoe DiNardo set the single-season kill record and Shelby Grubbs broke her own record for blocks.

SCCS boys basketball wins state title

The Santa Clarita Christian School boys basketball team capped their 19-game win streak with some extra hardware. The Cardinals beat Argonaut 78-66 for the CIF Division V state title in addition to going undefeated in Heritage League play (14-0) and winning the 2018 CIF-Southern Section Division 5AAA title.

Advancing to the 2018 CIF Division V State playoffs, the Cardinals breezed into the championship game with their closest win coming against Van Nuys by eight points in an 81-73 semifinal win.

Led by brothers Jordan and Caden Starr, Kaleb Lowery, Noah Veluzat and Justin Collins the Cardinals dominance throughout most of the regular season and into the playoffs resulted in the boys basketball team moving up five division to 3AA.

Valencia football achieves 10-peat

The Vikings accomplished their 10th consecutive undefeated league title season this year, outscoring Foothill League opponents 213-56 in the process. Valencia beat West Ranch 42-13 in the final league game for the undefeated crown.

“It’s amazing because it’s all the hard work that we put in and all the teams before us have just put in to just play like, for something bigger than us, and it came through tonight,” said Valencia’s Ben Seymour after the game.

Jake Santos was the team’s leading rusher on the season as a whole with 662 yards on 65 carries. Davis Cop led in passing yardage, going 124-of-250 for 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns. Seymour led in tackles with 27, according to

Valencia went 7-4 overall in 2018 and fell in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs to eventual state champions Mater Dei.

SCV track and field excels at state level

The Foothill League was well-represented at 2018 CIF track and field state finals at Buchanan High School in Clovis in early June.

West Ranch’s Danny Bryant placed fourth in the shot put with a throw of 59-00 feet while Natalie Ramirez finished third behind Golden Valley’s Shyann Franklin, who placed second with a throw of 46-01.5.

Franklin broke the Foothill League record the day before at CIF prelims, throwing 46-05.

Ramirez also finished seventh in discus at 145-10 feet.

Hart’s CJ McMullen came away with a sixth-place finish in boys discus, throwing 180-10 in his first attempt at the state meet.

Canyon’s Ethan Danforth finished fourth with a time of 9 minutes, 30 seconds in the 3,200-meter race and Valencia’s JaCore Johnson finished fifth clocking 47.62 seconds in the 400.

Girls basketball players reach 1,000 points

Three Foothill League girls basketball players surpassed 1,000 career points in the 2017-18 season: Canyon’s Talia Taufaasau and Rachel Bowers and Hart’s Annie Christofferson.

Taufaasau and Bowers reached the 1,000 mark on Dec. 21, 2017 in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona in a game against Fairmont Prep. Taufaasau is currently playing for Ventura College and Bowers plays for Boise State. Both are in their freshman seasons.

Christofferson reached 1,500 points against Thousand Oaks on Dec. 30, 2017.

“I definitely was blessed with a talent for basketball, but a lot of hard work has gone into doing what I do,” Christofferson said shortly after the milestone.

West Ranch boys XC team makes it to nationals

The West Ranch boys cross-country team was able to make their mark in the history books after becoming the first Wildcat team to qualify for the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon.

Winning their fourth straight Foothill League title in 2018, the West Ranch boys cross-country team was led by Isaiah Seidman, Evan Bates and Dylan Gatua. At CIF-Southern Section Division 1 finals, the boys team finished fifth and advanced onto the state meet in Fresno.

At the state meet in Woodward Park, the boys were able to reach the podium for a second-place finish in Division 1 and break the Santa Clarita Valley record for the fastest team time at a state meet. Bates finished second, Seidman fourth and Gatua 14th.

Making the trip to nationals for the first time in program history, the Wildcats team was comprised of Seidman, Bates, Gatua, Hunter Romine, Alexis Romero, Jonathan McDaniel and Brandon Arana. The boys put forth the best finish in Foothill League boys cross-country history by placing eighth at the national meet, surpassing the 11th-place finish by Golden Valley in 2011.

COC football goes undefeated

The Cougars went undefeated this season for the first time since 2008 to take the Northen League title.

Canyons overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Bakersfield 42-30 for the perfect 10-0 season.

“We’re starting to become something that you don’t see very often, especially at the two-year level because kids come, kids go and it’s hard to build that when you have 50 percent of a new team every year,” Iacenda said after the win.

“But for whatever reason, we found a good recipe, we’ve got a good plan, and our boys buy in and they go to work.”

Sophomore quarterback Wyatt Eget led the team in passing for the season, completing 160-of-253 passes for 2,084 yards and 14 touchdowns. Andrew Brito followed in passing, going 69-of-117 for 1,092 yards and nine touchdowns.

Cayden Dunn was the team’s leading rusher with 492 yards and four touchdowns on 82 carries and Brandon Pierce was the top receiver, hauling in 47 catches for 801 yards and seven touchdowns.

COC advanced to the first round of the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs where it lost to Ventura 21-13.

Trinity baseball’s deep playoff run

Going on a 14-game win streak, winning the first-ever playoff game in program history and being the first team to reach the CIF-Southern Section title game, the Trinity Classical Academy boys baseball team reached new heights.

After losing their third game of the season in mid-February, the Knights barreled their way into the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 playoffs, beating Valley Christian 6-5 in dramatic fashion after a walk-off single by Jake Backes.

Trinity went on to take down Bloomington Christian 8-5 in eight innings in the second round and advanced to play Upland Christian.

Down 2-0 in the third round, the Knights came back to defeat Upland Christian 5-2. Hitting another walk-off hit, Backes came through once again to push the Knights past de Toledo 6-5 in extra innings to advance to their first-ever title game.

Falling in the title game to Fillmore 7-4, the Knights finished the season 18-4 under first-year head coach Mike Franchimone. The Knights were 10-10 in 2017.

West Ranch football makes history

The Wildcats had a historic season, setting the program record for best start to a season by winning the first eight games of the 2018 season.

West Ranch finished fourth in the Foothill League standings after losing a coin flip to break a three-way tie for second place.

Ryan Camacho and Jovan Camacho also broke individual records for the Wildcats in 2018. With 332 yards, Ryan set the single-game record for rushing yards in addition to breaking the single-season rushing record at 1,919 yards, the single-season rushing touchdown record with 28 and the single-game rushing touchdown record with five. He also set a new career rushing yards record with 2,479.

Jovan logged 1,344 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions to end his three-year varsity career with a total of 2,369 receiving yards and 21 touchdown receptions.

TMU men’s hoops reaches new level

Finishing 29-3 overall on the season, The Master’s University men’s basketball team hit unprecedented heights in 2018, finishing with the most successful regular season in program history going 27-2. Losing two games in a three-month span, the Mustangs went a perfect 14-0 at home, winning 25 consecutive games game for in that stretch.

Earning an NAIA No. 1 ranking for the first time in The Master’s men’s basketball program history, the Mustangs went on to claim a share of their first Golden State Athletic Conference title after defeating Westmont College 101-82 in February.

Lawrence Russell was named the GSAC Player of the Year while Hansel Atencia and Tim Soares were All-GSAC selections.
Second-year head coach Kelvin Starr was named the GSAC Coach of the Year and later named the National Association of Basketball Coaches-NAIA Coach of the Year.

The Mustangs went on to repeat as GSAC tournament champs to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NAIA Division 1 tournament.

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