Prep football notebook: Foothill League play starts this week

Hart's Luke Madison (9) , center, celebrates with teammates Daniel Larkins (11) and Tyler Thompson (68) after Madison scored Hart's first touchdown in the first quarter against Downey at Hart on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The bye weeks have come and gone and the preleague schedule is in the books; Foothill League football starts Friday.

Canyon and Valencia, both 2-3 heading into league action, will open up at Valencia High School.

Despite having the same record, the two teams are coming off very different ends to the preleague slate. The Cowboys are 2-1 in their last three games while the Vikings are 0-3, albeit against powerhouse programs Sierra Canyon, Loyola and Calabasas.

The Cowboys’ offense has been blistering lately, with quarterback Aydyn Litz piling up touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The run game led by Sam Nguyen, Dylan Roof and Josh Perrin is starting to pick up steam. And the defensive front seven has been disruptive.

The Vikings’ offense has been hot and cold in their first five games, and they struggled mightily against the Coyotes on Friday. Valencia’s defense scored the only points of the game on an interception return by Jonathan Tcheumani.

But that can change in an instant, as league play brings a whole new dynamic to the game.

Canyon head coach Joe Maiale has known the task at hand since the schedule was released. After a tough preleague, opening against the 10-time consecutive league champions provides no breaks for the Cowboys.

“You have to be prepared to play in this league and we’re at Canyon, there is no hiding,” Maiale said before the start of the season. “Everyone knows who we are, knows the tradition, so we play a tough schedule. You have to be ready for this league, if you show up unprepared you will just get beat up.”

In a battle of undefeateds, West Ranch will face Golden Valley at Canyon High School.

The Grizzlies are 5-0 for the first time in program history and have already more than doubled their win total from last year.

Senior Johnathan Kaelin has been nothing short of spectacular this season, and capped off Golden Valley’s preleague schedule with six touchdowns in a 55-27 win over Division 5 Newbury Park.

The Wildcats strung together consecutive undefeated preleague and did so in dominating fashion.

West Ranch, who had its bye this last week, totaled 246 points in its first five games, a 49.2 points per game average. Inversely, they’ve only given up 74 points. 

Hart and Saugus will open up league play against one another at College of the Canyons, in a designated home game for the Centurions.

Both teams enter with a 3-2 record, with the Indians riding a three-game winning streak, while the Centurions just had their bye.

The run game has been a major factor for both squads, with Hart’s Taden Littleford ranked second in rushing yards and Saugus’ Josh Bond ranked fifth in the league.

All three games will kick off at 7 p.m.

Rankings shuffle

It took an undefeated preleague for Golden Valley to finally get the recognition it deserved, as the Grizzlies made the CIF-Southern Section rankings for the first time this year. They are ranked as the No. 10 team in Division 6.

Hart moved up a spot to No. 8 in the Division 4 rankings after its 19-13 win over Downey.

The Wildcats remain in the No. 6 spot in Division 7, a position they’ve held since Sept. 3.

Trinity stumbles

After starting the season 4-0, the Knights lost their first game of the season to St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy on Friday. Trinity started the game with a 16-0 lead, but the Warriors put up 28 unanswered points to close out the first half on their way to a 48-24 victory.

Before the contest, Trinity was the No. 2 ranked team in Division 14 and St. Pius was ranked No. 5. The Warriors moved to the No. 1 spot after their win and the Knights dropped out of the rankings to the honorable mention. 

The Knights were scheduled to face Desert High on Thursday, but the game was canceled due to transportation difficulties for the Scorpions. 

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