Canyon quarterback Aydyn Litz drops back for a pass in a scrimmage against Ventura on Aug. 16, 2019. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

Prep football notebook: Canyon, Hart improving despite lack of victories

While four of the six Foothill League teams are off to undefeated starts, Canyon and Hart have struggled out of the gate, both going 0-2 to begin the 2019 campaign.

However, both teams have shown vast improvement from their first game of the season. 

Canyon’s home opener couldn’t have gone any worse for the Cowboys, as they fell 37-3 to a revamped Crespi team. In a road contest against San Fernando on Thursday, Canyon seemed like an entirely different team.

The Cowboys opened the contest with a 78-yard scoring drive and held a 23-0 lead at one point in the first half. The Tigers scored their first touchdown with less than one minute before halftime, and from there the momentum shifted in San Fernando’s favor. 

Canyon ended up losing 58-43.

New coach Joe Maiale would have loved to record his first head coaching win, but was pleased with the improvement his team showed in such a short amount of time.

“This is just another step, we have to get better,” Maiale said after the game. “We are coming into bye week so we have some time to clean up the mistakes we made and hopefully build on the good things that we did. This is a good football team, a lot of good kids and we are getting better. I’m proud of them because they fought hard all game.”

Hart’s Taden Littleford (6) evades a Muir defender as he brings the ball towards the goal line, later to score for Hart in the second quart quarter at COC on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

In Hart’s season opener, the Indians traveled more than halfway to San Diego to face the Carlsbad Lancers, losing 42-14.

Like Canyon, Hart took an early lead in its second game of the season against Muir, carrying a 13-0 advantage into halftime at home.

Hart’s defense allowed just two first downs in the first half, both coming with less than two minutes in the first half. The Indians also stopped the Mustangs on three fourth-down attempts and blocked a pair of extra-point attempts.

Muir came back in the second half after returning an interception for a touchdown and returning a kickoff for a score. 

After relinquishing the lead, the Indians showed great resolve in fighting back to tie the game with 31 seconds left and send it to overtime, but could not complete the comeback, losing 30-24.

Golden Valley and Valencia started its seasons with victories, as the Grizzlies defeated Burbank 43-28 and the Vikings walloped Arcadia 60-7.

Golden Valley senior Jonathan Kaelin reaches over the goal line in the second quarter of a non-league matchup with Burbank at Harry Welch Stadium Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Saugus recorded its second shutout in a row, defeating Agoura 41-0 to move to 2-0 and West Ranch defeated Granada Hills 55-10 to also move to 2-0.

The CIF-Southern Section will release its latest rankings on Tuesday, and West Ranch is expected to move up from its No. 7 spot in Division 7. Saugus could see its name in the top 10 in Division 5 for the first time this season. 

Trinity Classical Academy shut out Rivera 46-0 and will likely move up from the No. 5 spot in Division 14 when the newest polls are released. 

First-half heroics

With the West Ranch Wildcats holding a 55-0 lead at halftime against Granada Hills Charter on Friday night, head coach Chris Varner elected to sit most of his starters in the second half, including quarterback Walker Eget. 

Nonetheless, Eget put up monster numbers in just two quarters of play. He went 13-for-18 for 330 yards and five touchdowns and finished with a quarterback rating of 153.9.

West Ranch’s skill players also finished with absurd numbers. Brandon Wyre had three catches for 103 yards and a touchdown, Nicholas Kohl had 99 yards on two receptions, both for touchdowns, Jackson Reyes caught a pass for 34 yards and a score and Zach Van Bennekum had three catches for 24 yards and a score. Running back Reiger Burgin had 11 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Magic number is four

Three Foothill League quarterbacks threw four touchdowns in their week one games: Aydyn Litz of Canyon, Ryan Morrison of Valencia and Colton FitzGerald of Saugus.

Litz threw for 447 yards including an 84-yard touchdown screen pass to Reno Sifuentes. He went 29-of-47 with a quarterback rating of 121.5. 

Morrison completed 8 of his 16 passes for 164 yards, good for a quarterback rating of 126 in his first career varsity start. He averaged 20.5 yards per pass and hit Jayden Lawrence with a 49-yard touchdown pass. 

FitzGerald tallied the highest quarterback rating of the bunch at 132.4. He went 11-of-18 for 172 yards, including a long of 48 yards on a touchdown screen pass to Azariah Beaugard.

Road warriors

The Saugus Centurions opened the 2019 season with back-to-back road wins, and did so in commanding fashion. 

After defeating Granada Hills 36-0 in week zero, Saugus came back with a 41-0 effort against Agoura on Friday. The Centurions allowed just 18 passing yards in both games combined. 

In 12 games last year, Saugus recorded three shutouts. The Cents will look for their third consecutive shutout to start this season, taking on Redondo Union at home on Friday. 

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