Starting in the offseason, the energy and excitement surrounding Canyon football was palpable.
With new coach Joe Maiale taking over the program, Harry Welch Stadium was filled with enthusiasm and fervor that hadn’t been felt in years.
The Cowboys got off to a rough start to the year, losing their season opener at home by 34 points to Crespi, then falling on the road to San Fernando after holding a 23-0 lead at one point.
On Friday night against Palmdale, Canyon got off the schneid and recorded its first win of the year, defeating the Falcons 28-15. It was Maiale’s first victory as Canyon’s head coach.
“It feels amazing, it’s great,” wide receiver Reno Sifuentes said after the game. “With our new coach we’re doing great, we’re on to better things.”
“It feels great,” quarterback Aydyn Litz added. “This week we just want to push it at practice, keep doing what we’re doing, hopefully we keep it going for our homecoming game.”
The Cowboys were dominant on both sides of the ball on Friday, with Litz finding his receivers all over the field, and the defense swarming Palmdale’s quarterback Marcus Hearn and his backfield all night.
Litz finished with 215 passing yards, four touchdowns and 68 rushing yards. He is the leading rusher for Foothill League quarterbacks so far by a large margin.
Canyon compiled 61 total tackles, with senior defensive end Evan Cox recording a team-high 14 tackles, and sacked Hearn five times.
“Defense was doing great, now we got our tackles going,” Sifuentes said. “We just have to keep practicing and having consistency, that’s all it is.”
With the win, Canyon jumped into the honorable mentions in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 rankings.
Hart also earned its first win of the season, defeating Burbank 31-13 at College of the Canyons. The Indians used the ground game to decimate the Bulldogs, as running back Taden Littleford scored three rushing touchdowns and quarterback Zach Johnson also ran one in.
While all the Foothill League teams that played on Friday won, Valencia suffered a setback on Saturday losing to Division 1/2 counterpart Sierra Canyon on the road.
The Vikings will try to rebound against Loyola at home on Friday.
Though they are yet to crack the top-10 in the CIF-SS polls, the Centurions, Grizzlies and Indians all made the honorable mentions lists for their respective divisions.
Saugus (3-1) has scored the third-most points (148) out of the 21 teams in Division 5 so far this season. The Cents have allowed just 52 points in four games, 42 of which came in their loss to Redondo Union. Saugus faces St. Francis at home to conclude its preleague slate.
Golden Valley (3-0) is off to its best start since 2016 and already has more wins than it did all of last season. The Grizzlies are coming off a big road victory against Division 6 foe Rio Mesa and are poised to finish preleague undefeated for the first time in program history.
Hart (1-2) remained in the honorable mention category in Division 4 after earning its first win on Friday. The Indians have two tough games left on their preleague schedule, facing St. Bonaventure (Division 5) on the road this Friday then Downey (Division 4) at home.
West Ranch (4-0) remains at the No. 6 spot in the Division 7 rankings and Trinity Classical Academy (3-0) stays put at No. 2 in Division 14.
Trinity quarterback Rick Roberts is off to a record-setting start to the season. The senior has completed 48-of-71 passes for 1,112 yards, 15 touchdowns and only one interception in three games.
Trinity’s record for the most passing yards in a season was established by Colton Oshiro in 2014 with 1,496, and that was when the Knights played 8-man football.
Roberts needs 384 passing yards to surpass the record and could very well break it this Saturday when Trinity takes on Morningside at College of the Canyons.
With seven games left on the schedule and the possibility of more if the Knights reach the playoffs, Roberts is also on pace to break the record of 25 passing touchdowns set by Oshiro (2014) and Dakota Prochnow (2012).