By Matt Lechuga
For the Signal
The West Ranch Wildcats needed a half to get comfortable before being able to pull away from a feisty Canyon squad, beating the Cowboys 36-11 at Valencia High School on Friday.
After a day of wondering whether or not the game would even be played due to the Saddleridge fire, both Canyon and West Ranch came out sluggish in the first half.
Drives ended on punts, turnover-on-downs and interceptions until the Wildcats (7-0, 2-0) broke through thanks to sophomore running back Derek Miranda’s efforts. First a 46-yard rush, with an additional 15 yards tacked on thanks to a personal foul on Canyon, and on the next play scoring from 11 yards out to give West Ranch a 7-0 lead with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter.
“Our guys are very structured, and when you throw off that structure, I had a bad feeling about that,” said West Ranch head coach Chris Varner. “Our defense played excellent the whole game. On offense we were our own worst enemy until we got things clicking in the second half.”
Canyon (2-5, 0-2) was the first to get into gear coming out of the locker room. On its first drive of the half, the Cowboys cut into the Wildcats’ halftime lead with a 27-yard field goal from Jarrett Reeser, making the score 10-3.
West Ranch responded with a 10-play drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Walker Eget to Matt Striplin. Eget finished 13-26 for 166 yards and two touchdown passes.
The Wildcats extended their lead in the third quarter to 29-3 on a 5-yard Jackson Reyes touchdown rush and a 70-yard Zachary Van Bennekum scoop-and-score fumble recovery.
Canyon kept fighting, though, and scored its only touchdown of the game on a 1-yard Josh Perrin rush, making the score 29-11.
“No excuses for tonight, we just didn’t come out and execute. That’s the bottom line,” said Canyon head coach Joe Maiale. “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.”
West Ranch finished the scoring on an 18-yard screen pass to running back Reiger Burgin to make the final score of 36-11.
The Wildcats will face Saugus next Friday and Canyon will look forward to its matchup against Hart.