West Ranch eager for early season test against Antelope Valley

Zachary Van Bennekum (16) catches a touchdown pass for West Ranch in the first quarter against Nordhoff at Valencia High School 082319 Dan Watson/The Signal

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is working best for the West Ranch football team two games into the 2019 season after two blowout victories at home.

The Wildcats offense forced 55 points in each of the first two contests coming in wins against Nordhoff and Granada Hills Charter, while allowing a combined 24 total points.

But that can all change as West Ranch heads out on the road for its first true test, playing Antelope Valley on the road.

Junior quarterback Walker Eget leads a high-octane offense that is averaging almost 500 yards per game, according to MaxPreps.com.

Through two games, Eget has completed 40-of-49 passes for 699 yards, eight passing touchdowns and two interceptions, distributing the ball amongst nine different receivers. 

“Hopefully, with Walker what makes him really, really great at this point in his career is he learns from his mistakes,” said West Ranch head coach Chris Varner. “He trusts his right decisions, his coaches, the plan and he doesn’t just rely on his athletic ability, he really is a student of the game. It’s very awesome to have such a young kid who wants to get better and realizes there’s always room for improvement.”

Second-year varsity running back Reiger Burgin has seemed to take up the bell-cow role leading the team in carries (31), rushing yards (262) and rushing touchdowns (4). 

In 2018, Burgin appeared in four games rushing the ball 23 times for 80 yards while serving as the team’s back up running back.

“Surprisingly, if I had to pick the toughest kid on the team, because he’s not the biggest, it would be Reiger,” Varner said. “I don’t think there’s a single kid who would have anything different to say about that. He’s not very large in stature, but big at heart and a real tough kid. We are asking him to carry the load like somebody who’s 40 pounds heavier than him and he does it week in and week out for us so I couldn’t be more pleased with his effort.”

Finishing 2018 season 9-3 overall slotting in third place in the Golden League, the Antelopes have their work cut out for them as they welcome the Wildcats onto the home turf.

Struggling to find their footing early in the year against Oak Hills and Camarillo, Antelope Valley has suffered through two shutout losses on the road. With junior quarterback Aldwin Burns inheriting the offense, last year’s fifth-leading receiver Kay’Ron Benns, who caught five passes for two touchdowns, returns and will be one of the team’s primary receivers.

“Their offense may not have touched the end zone, but it’s not because they are not capable of doing so,” Varner said. “They have three guys veteran guys on their offense and any combination in the last two games we have seen. Certainly, my latest fear is that they are getting ready to get in rhythm and our job is to keep them out of rhythm because they have receivers, a running quarterback, they have solid running back and some big linemen. I’m hoping that we can catch them while they are on a little bit of a down-point because that team will catch fire at some point this season.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Antelope Valley.

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