Foothill League football continues to heat up

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By Haley Sawyer and Diego Marquez
Signal Staff Writers

Hart at Canyon

Multiple rivalries have developed in Foothill League football, but there are none as storied and steeped in tradition as this one. 

Valencia beat Hart last week by a field goal in a very close contest and slashed the Indians’ win streak. Ashton Thomas and Angelo Lucchese were the leading receivers for Hart in the contest, with Thomas picking up 115 yards on two receptions and Lucchese 69 yards on three receptions. Each had one touchdown.

The Indians also have talent on the ground in running back Taden Littleford, who has 722 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

Hart’s offense will be a lot for the Canyon defense, which has given up 67 points in two games of league play, to handle. However, those two games were against Valencia and West Ranch, the only two undefeated teams in league play left.

In last week’s game against West Ranch, running back Josh Perrin scored the only Canyon touchdown of the night on a 1-yard rush. Jarrett Reeser kicked a 27-yard field goal, as well.

First-year Canyon head coach Joe Maiale has said throughout the season that he is pleased with his team’s effort, it’s just the Cowboys’ lack of execution that is holding them back.

“No excuses for tonight, we just didn’t come out and execute. That’s the bottom line,” said Canyon head coach Joe Maiale after the game against West Ranch. “We played to the end. The effort is always a positive. We still need to improve the execution, but I was proud of the effort.”

Canyon hosts Hart at 7 p.m. tonight.

Golden Valley at Valencia

Valencia and Golden Valley both bring serious athletes into this matchup.

The Grizzlies’ Johnathan Kaelin has over 1,000 rushing yards this season and scored four touchdowns in Golden Valley’s win over Saugus last week — the first win over the Centurions in program history.

“We’re doing what coach waters preaches to us in the beginning of the summer,” said Valencia safety Nick Pham. “Swarm to the ball, just be there for each other, trust your angles, trust your teammates that when you go to make a tackle there will be teammates behind you. Just don’t slow up, just hit him like you would any other athlete.”

The Vikings will once again be without two-way player Hunter Koch, who will be out for the remainder of the season with a collarbone injury. Koch still comes to every practice and game and is a motivating factor for Valencia.

“Him not being able to play his last games is kind of rough for all of us,” Pham said. “We kind of play for him now.”

In Koch’s absence, sophomores Brandon Tompkins and Zamondre Merriweather have stepped up on offense. Each caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Morrison in last week’s win over Hart.

“BT (Tompkins) scored his first touchdown against Hart last week and Zamondre has been putting up numbers and they’re both doing a great job offensively and defensively,” Morrison said.

Valencia hosts Golden Valley at 7 p.m.

West Ranch at Saugus

While West Ranch football looks to extend their seven-game winning streak to eight games, Saugus is on the opposite end of that spectrum, trying to stop a three-game skid and also trying to capture the first Foothill League win of the year.

The Wildcats have continued the explosive beginning to the year and are coming off a 36-11 win over Canyon last week. 

With the Foothill League leader in passing yards (1,627) and touchdowns (20), quarterback Walker Eget didn’t look quite himself in the win over the Cowboys as he completed 14-of-30 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns, it was the running game that more effective.

The West Ranch (7-0 overall, 2-0 Foothill League) running attack combined to carry the ball 25 times for 217 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Jackson Reyes, Derek Miranda and Zach Van Bennekum each found the end zone.

Saugus is coming off its worst offensive performance of the year in a 31-7 defeat at the hands of Golden Valley. The Centurions managed just 143 yards of offense against a big and physical Golden Valley team, while allowing five rushing touchdowns.

Saugus (3-4, 0-2) quarterback Colton FitzGerald ranks fourth in passing yards on the Foothill League’s passing list with 1,316 yards and is tied for second place with 13 passing touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.com. 

The Cents’ ground game hasn’t fared so well in the past two games being limited to 132 yards on 41 carries and if the Cents want to have a chance at getting their first league win against the Wildcats, FitzGerald must look true to form and get the passing game going.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons. 

Firebaugh at Trinity Classical Academy

The Trinity Classical Academy football team rebounded well in last week’s 26-18 win over Vasquez to conclude the preleague slate. The Knights now turn their attention to Firebaugh High School, an Academy League foe as they host the Falcons at College of the Canyons on Saturday.

The Knights’ signal-caller, senior quarterback Rick Roberts played masterfully in the win against Vasquez, completing 20-of-32 for 300 yards and three touchdown passes. 

Roberts found his sophomore wide receiver AJ Horning six times for 99 yards and one receiving touchdown. 

Trinity (5-1 overall) junior Jose Haro was on the receiving end of a 69-yard touchdown bomb, his only catch of the game. Kyle Fields also caught a score, finishing the day with three catches for 60 yards.

Firebaugh, similarly, is also coming off a rebound win after losing its first six preleague games by an average of 41.2 points per game, while forcing just 16.4 points on offense. 

In their first win of the season, the Falcons (1-6) held Temecula Prep’s quarterbacks down, allowing just 24 yards on 3-of-4 pass attempts in the 22-20 win.

Roberts and Trinity’s receiving corps should be able to top that before the end of the first drive as Roberts is averaging 311.3 yards passing per game and just had his fourth 300 yards or better performance against Vasquez.

It will be interesting how Knights’ running backs junior Edgar Romero and freshman Nick Parrinello will fair after Firebaugh (1-6) gave up nearly 300 yards in the win over Temecula Prep.

On the year, Romero leads the team on the ground, carrying the ball 33 times for 176 yards and one score, while Parrinello has rushed the ball 19 times for 70 yards and one score.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at College of the Canyons.

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