West Ranch football looks to build upon opening victory, ready for Granada Hills

JC Cotti (90) of West Ranch sacks Nordhoff quarterback Noah Koester (3) at Valencia High School on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The West Ranch football team opened its season just the way it wanted to last week against Nordhoff, showcasing its dynamic offense and potent defense in a 55-14 victory.

The opposite could be said for its opponent tonight, Granada Hills Charter, which started its 2019 season with a 36-0 loss to Saugus.

In the game against the Centurions, the Highlanders relied heavily on their run game, though it didn’t get them very far.

Granada threw the ball just twice in that game, both coming on third-and-long situations, despite trailing Saugus early.

West Ranch is expecting a similar approach from Granada tonight.

“They definitely like to run the ball and try to milk the clock as much as they can,” said linebacker Bryce Buchanan. “The goal will be to try to get them off the field as quick as we can and not let them milk the clock.”

Knowing that Granada likes to run the ball, West Ranch worked on some different defensive schemes this week at practice and will utilize the secondary and linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage. 

As for the offense, the Wildcats showcased three new weapons last week: quarterback Walker Eget, running back Reiger Burgin and wide receiver Nicholas Kohl.

Burgin and Kohl were both on the varsity team last year, but only played in five games and two games, respectively. Both players already surpassed their totals from last season, as Burgin rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns and Kohl caught seven passes for 131 yards and a score.

And the Wildcats still have Zach Van Bennekum, Matt Striplin, Jackson Reyes, and Brandon Wyre, too.

“We’re going to try to spread the ball around as much as we can. Try to get it to all of our receivers, get them the ball and see what they can do,” Eget said. “We trust them, they get the ball, make some moves and take it for a big touchdown. It’s just crazy because our receiving core this year is so stacked.”

Then there is Eget, who was poised, precise and proficient in his first varsity start.

The junior went 27-for-31 with 369 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in his debut.

“It felt great just being out there with the boys,” Eget said. “The spirit, everybody wants to win, coming together as a family, just having one goal and that’s to win, it was just amazing. My line really helped me out, didn’t let me get hit at all.”

Eget shouldn’t have a problem facing the Highlanders’ front seven, who didn’t sack Saugus quarterback Colton FitzGerald a single time last week. Their secondary was also beat on several plays, and with the speedy playmakers donning West Ranch jerseys, the Highlanders could be in for another long night.

“They play man on almost every single play, so we’re going to try to get some quick passes, anything quick. Try to get to the outside,” Eget said. “They blitz a lot so if we can dump it down, maybe a couple screens, that stuff is definitely going to work.”

The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Valencia High School.

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