Senior quarterback Aydyn Litz drops back for a pass against Ventura in a scrimmage at Canyon High School Friday night. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

Excitement in the air at Canyon football scrimmage against Ventura

Canyon football ended its scrimmage against Ventura in one of the best, yet most frustrating, ways possible.

Quarterback Aydyn Litz tossed a 15-yard pass to Felo Ibrahim, who was waiting just near the end zone. He pulled in the pass, but came up a few steps of scoring the Cowboys’ only touchdown of the game.

“He’s never played in a varsity game,” coach Joe Maiale said of Ibrahim. “So it’s really great for him to make a big play and I know he’s a little frustrated he didn’t get in, but it was just really awesome.”

Although Canyon wasn’t able to put up a touchdown in Friday’s home scrimmage, the team acted like they did. There was constant excitement on the sidelines from offense and defense, a different scene from how last season’s bench looked.

“We really bonded this year,” Litz said. “We’re all hanging out together at school, out of school, in the locker room we’re all jamming together before practice.”

The camaraderie transferred onto the field, especially when it came to passing.

After calming some nerves at the start of the scrimmage, Litz was able to make some connections with receivers like James Mendibles to pick up a handful of yards at a time.

“We’re like brothers,” Litz said of himself and Mendibles. “I mean, we come out here and throw on our own, warm up together. We spent a lot of time together over the offseason.”

Backup quarterback Angel Vasquez also got some reps in, showing that Canyon could have some depth at the position this season.

The Cowboys defense also dealt with some jitters at the start of the scrimmage, but showed potential as a ball-hawking defense. 

Ventura picked up 22 yards on the ground in the first three plays of the scrimmage, but the defense was able to buckle down and force the Cougars to the air. Ventura nearly scored on a fourth-and-9, but a defensive back forced Aidan Garza, who made the initial reception, to cough up the ball.

Canyon gave up two touchdowns on the evening, both of which were thrown by quarterback Carson Willis.

“I think the two things that we can learn from for Crespi next week is settling our feet more and just training our eyes to make sure that we don’t anticipate a play first,” said defensive back Connor Romero. “And we’re just executing every single play and making sure that we’re all one team and everything.”

Maiale said the the pass rush is a focus for the Cowboys and will continue to be this season, but also acknowledged that mistakes are going to be made early in the season.

“You’re going to give up big plays at times,” he said. “I’m more concerned with how do we respond. I was proud of the way we responded today. Sometimes they’re going to get behind you and you have to respond and make a play next time you come out, you can’t let one bad play become another bad play.”

It was Maiale’s first time coaching the team in game situations since taking over as head coach in December of last year.

“A little nerves but because it was a full school day and the first week back at school, we were a little tired so it took some the nerves out of it,” he said, “but once you get out there you forget about all that. It’s a blast.”

Canyon begins its preleague slate at home against Crespi on Aug. 23.

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