West Ranch football starts season off right against Nordhoff

West Ranch teammates Nick Aquino (15) and John Collier (51) sack Nordhoff quarterback Noah Koester (3) in the first quarter at Valencia High School. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Hitting the ground running in their first game of the 2019-20 season, West Ranch football proved why they should not be taken lightly this year as they hosted Nordhoff at Valencia High School on Friday. 

Doing it on the ground and through the air, the Wildcats scored at will defeating Nordhoff 55-14.

“I thought we started off really sloppy,” said West Ranch head coach Chris Varner. “Nordhoff is a heck of a tough team, but we responded well in the second half. We had a 20-7 lead and we didn’t get ahead of ourselves and we knew we didn’t play well. We got it together much more solidly in the second half.”

Taking his first varsity snaps of his career, junior quarterback Walker Eget got the Wildcats offense going completing his first two pass attempts to Brandon Wyre and Zach Van Bennekum.

On the next pass attempt, Eget etched his name into the West Ranch (1-0 overall) football history books throwing his first touchdown pass to Van Bennekum over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown.

Responding, on their first drive, Nordhoff (0-1 overall) tried their luck establishing the ground game, but thanks to a combination of Bryce Buchanan, John Collier and Nick Aquino the Rangers had no luck.

The Rangers were able to find a hole in the secondary and scored on a 22-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 7-7.

Leaning on their air attack, Eget connected with Nicholas Kohl for a 76-yard touchdown down the right sideline to put the Wildcats up with 3:46 left in the first quarter.

“I think I have the best line in the Foothill League,” Eget said. “I hardly got touched at all today and they were blocking amazing. My receivers were catching every single thing, it was crazy.”

Just before the end of the first half, Nordhoff attempted to fake a punt but Collier was able to snuff it out for a loss deep in the Rangers’ territory.

On the next possession running back Reiger Burgin punched the ball in for a two-yard touchdown, but West Ranch missed the extra-point try with 3:06 left before the half to lead 20-7.

On the opening drive in the second half, Burgin found paydirt for his second of three rushing touchdowns on the night on a 53-yard run up the middle.

The Wildcats didn’t let up scoring two more times on the ground as Thierry Sirias and Burgin each scored on six-yard touchdown runs.

Eget threw a touchdown pass to Matthew Striplin and the West Ranch defense came up late in the game as JohnnieRay Poucher scored on a 75-plus interception return for a touchdown to seal the game for West Ranch.

“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Varner said. “We have to clean up a lot of things. This needs to best the worst game that we play all year long because it won’t get it done in the Foothill League.”

West Ranch gears up to plays Granada Hills Charter next week on the road at 7 p.m.

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