A quiet person by nature, West Ranch senior linebacker Bryce Buchanan isn’t your typical rambunctious middle linebacker. He’s shy and reserved, but don’t mistake his personality for a weakness as he is one of the hardest and most talented hitters in the valley.
“I just enjoy the game,” Buchanan said. “I like hitting people on the field and the energy of going out there and giving 100% the whole time. There’s no feeling like it.”
A key cog in the West Ranch defense, Buchanan led the Foothill League in almost every tackling category, besides sacks, and with his innate ability has been awarded the All-SCV Defensive Player of the Year Award.
“It’s definitely the highlight of my West Ranch football playing career,” Buchanan said of winning the award in his senior season. “It made my New Year’s Eve. I like to lead by example rather than my voice. Everyone goes out there and does their job and I do mine. That’s how I play.”
The linebacker led the Foothill League and the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 totaling 166 tackles, according the MaxPreps.com. Buchanan recorded 15 more tackles than the Division 7 runner-up Temecula Valley’s Anton Pulsipher (151).
Evan Cox, a defensive lineman for Canyon, was the Foothill League’s runner-up with 105 tackles.
Moving from Ohio to California in 2014, Buchanan attributes the competition and youth resources that developed him into the player that he is now.
“It’s more competitive out here,” he said. “California felt more football-heavy than in Ohio. The amount of teams that they had out here compared to where I lived in Ohio there were a couple of youth teams and there weren’t many places to play football. I became a better player because the competition was so much better and it forced me to get better.”
Averaging 12.8 tackles per game, Buchanan was at the top of the league’s list with 90 solo tackles, 24 more than the runner-up, recording double-digit tackles in 11 of the 13 games played this year. He finished the season with seven games of 14 or more tackles.
But his most memorable and most notable performance of the season came in an 18-tackle performance in a 36-11 win over Canyon.
A constant disruption in the backfield, Buchanan had 38 tackles-for-loss and four sacks, recording two sacks against Golden Valley.
As humble a player as there is, Buchanan hopes to make the leap to the college ranks, but won’t forget about the people that have helped him along his journey.
“ I would like to thank my family and coaching staff at West Ranch,” Buchanan said. “Coach Varner has done a great job ever since he got to West Ranch and it was a great year all around.”
1st Team Defense
Owen Hand, Valencia, senior, LB
Hand carried the momentum from a strong junior year to make for an outstanding senior campaign. A leader not just at his position but for the team as a whole, he embodied everything about the Vikings’ hard-nosed, ball-hawk defense that gave up just 40 yards in Foothill League play. Hand will continue his playing career at Linfield College.
Travis Gill, Hart, senior, LB
The Foothill League’s third-leading tackler with 103 tackles, the senior linebacker finished the season with 44 solo tackles and averaged 8.6 tackles per game. He was tied for fourth in the league with four sacks. Gill recorded a season-high 13 tackles against Valencia and had four games with 11 or more tackles. Not shy about dropping back in coverage, he intercepted three passes and had five pass deflections.
John Collier, West Ranch, senior, LB
Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 200 pounds, Collier commanded a lot of the offensive line’s attention among a very strong West Ranch front seven and still managed to finish tied for third in the league with four sacks in 12 games played. The senior recorded a sack in five straight games throughout the month of October and first week of November. He finished with six sacks and eight tackles-for-loss in 13 games played.
Tyler Walker, Golden Valley, senior, DB
A senior shut-down cornerback, Walker led a stout Grizzlies secondary into battle game after game. Focusing on covering the other team’s No. 1 wide receiver, Walker cooped up opposing players that lined up against him and finished with 25 tackles and one interception.
Jacob Cipperly, Golden Valley, junior, DB
The first-year varsity player made an instant impact on this year’s team that finished 8-2 overall, finishing third on the team in total tackles (35) and interceptions. His four interceptions ranked third in the Foothill League rankings.
Azariah Beaugard, Saugus, senior, DB
Beaugard was effective on both sides of the ball for the Centurions, finishing as the team’s leader with two interceptions in eight games played. He broke up five passes on the year and had a season-high seven tackles against Golden Valley, six of which were of the solo kind.
Evan Cox, Canyon, senior, DE
The Foothill League leader with 19 sacks, Cox bested the runner-up by eight sacks and averaged 1.7 sacks per game in 11 games played this season. A senior captain, Cox recorded two or more sacks in seven contests picking up three in two. Second in the league in tackles (105), Cox had 66 solo and finished with 12 or more tackles in five games with a season-high 15 coming against San Fernando. He had also two fumble recoveries.
Dylan Vradenburg, Hart, junior, DE
The combination of speed and physical strength made the junior defensive end a force to be reckoned with finishing with 87 tackles on the season and six sacks. Vradenburg had a four-sack performance against Muir. His high-end intensity and play at the end position disrupted opposing offenses throughout the season as he ended the season ranked fifth in tackles and tied for third in sacks.
JC Cotti, West Ranch, senior, DL
The defensive lineman led the Wildcats with 11 sacks over 13 games played in his senior campaign to finish second in the Foothill League. He recorded 65 tackles, 20 of which were for losses and caused three fumbles. He had a season-high three-sack performance in the first game of the season in a win against Nordhoff that set the bar for a career year.
Raysean Gilmore, Golden Valley, junior, DE
The Grizzlies’ third-leading tackler, the second-year varsity player was a vital piece in the success of the defensive unit. His 6-foot-4, 215-pound athletic frame made him a towering figure in the trenches and finished the year with 39 tackles, four tackles-for-loss and three sacks in a very productive junior year. Gilmore will be a mainstay on future Golden Valley football teams.
Jarrett Reeser, Canyon, junior, P
The junior punter was named to the 2019 California All-State First Team after leading the Foothill League in average yards per punt with 47.1 yards and totaled 2,357 yards on 50 punts. He recorded 30 punts inside the 20-yard line with a season-long of 71 yards in 11 games played this season.
2nd Team All-Defense
Max Macias, West Ranch, senior, LB
The first-year varsity player was part of the talented West Ranch linebacking core, but made an impact in his lone season as he finished fourth on the team with 70 tackles and tied for third with three sacks.
Leighton McCarthy, Hart, senior, LB
McCarthy was third on the Indians team with 83 tackles in the season. He had two games with 10 or more tackles and recorded one sack and four pass deflections.
Max Bjorkman, Hart, senior, DB
The senior defensive finished with 54 tackles (27 solo), two interceptions and four pass deflections in his second varsity season.
Diego Garcia, Valencia, senior, DB
A corner who was quick on his feet, Garcia expertly navigated the field to find exactly where he needed to be for a pass deflection or an interception. He and the rest of the Vikings defense combined to shut out both Golden Valley and West Ranch this season.
Jordan Brentley, Valencia, senior, DB
Brentley came in clutch in big games, like when he intercepted a Walker Eget pass in the Vikings’ shutout of West Ranch. His skills in the secondary added dimension to the defense, which held All-Foothill League Player of the Year Johnathan Kaelin to four yards in the game against Golden Valley.
Dean Miller, Valencia, junior, DE
Miller switched from linebacker to defensive end a little over halfway through the season and flourished. One of his best games of the season was against Golden Valley, where he recorded four sacks.
Darnell Musgrove, Golden Valley, senior, DL
The 300-pound defensive lineman was a big factor in the staunch Grizzlies defensive unit and finished his senior year with 34 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Angel Vasquez, Canyon, junior, DE
A 6-foot-3, Vasquez was as imposing a defensive end as ever and proved it in his first year with team to finish second on the Cowboys with 78 tackles (43 solo). He recorded two sacks and one interception and had a 13-tackle game in a 28-15 win over Palmdale.
Aidan Duhm, Trinity, junior, DE
A never-give-up attitude helped Duhm recorded 102 tackles (71 solo) and 15 sacks in 10 games played this season to lead the Academy League in tackles and sacks.
Carson Farber, Saugus, senior, P
The senior Centurions’ kick finished the season with 1,935 kickoff yards, averaging 45 per kickoff. He had a long of 60 yards and had five touchbacks. He went 3-of-4 in PATs and converted his only field-goal attempt for 32 yards.
1st Team All-Purpose
Zach Van Bennekum, West Ranch, senior, TE/LB
An undoubted senior leader for West Ranch, Van Bennekum hardly took a break from the action and as a result, landed him among the league’s statistical leaders. First on the Wildcats team with 60 receptions and 12 receiving touchdowns, Van Bennekum finished as the Foothill League’s runner-up in both categories for 736 receiving yards. The senior linebacker was second on the team behind Buchanan with 98 tackles (53 solo) and had three sacks on the season. At 6-foot-2, Van Bennekum used his length and knack for the ball and intercepted six passes to tie for the league lead with Brandon Wyre.
Brandon Wyre, West Ranch, senior, WR/DB
Second in the league in receiving yards (1,041), Wyre was arguably the Wildcats’ most potent offensive weapon, catching 59 balls for 10 touchdowns. He averaged 80.1 receiving yards per game and had five games with 100-plus receiving yards and caught multiple touchdowns in two of the games. He finished with 1,635 all-purpose yards. Tied for the league lead with six interceptions, Wyre wasn’t hesitant to snatch jump-balls out of the air or get up close and personal to put you on your back and finished with 45 tackles.
Mitchell Torres, Valencia, senior, WR/FS
A dual-sport athlete in football and baseball, Torres was not afraid to get his elbows dirty on either side of the ball. Fifth in the Foothill League with 813 receiving yards on 50 catches, Torres came up with timely catches in almost every game he appeared in and caught five touchdowns receptions. He rushed the ball 10 times for 20 yards and two touchdowns. A defensive stalworth, Torres wasn’t afraid of contact and often laid down hard hit after hard hit for the Vikings.
2nd Team All-Purpose
Luke McCoy, Golden Valley, junior, QB/MLB
McCoy went to battle every play of the game. He often lined up in a “Wildcat formation” disguised as a quarterback, but often carried the ball. He rushed 61 times for 319 yards and nine rushing touchdowns and occasionally passed the ball. He completed 4-of-7 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown and also caught two receptions for 50 yards. McCoy was a mainstay in the Grizzlies’ defense, hardly leaving the field. He ended his junior year with 64 tackles, six tackles-for-loss and a sack. He also intercepted three passes on the year, with two coming against Saugus and had two fumble recoveries.
Jackson Reyes, West Ranch, senior, RB/DB
The second-year Wildcats player, Reyes impacted the outcome of the game on both sides of the ball. Making his presence known on the defensive side, Reyes was nuisance out wide against opposing wide receivers intercepting three balls for 11 yards. He also had two fumble recoveries for 16 yards. He finished the year with 59 tackles for sixth on the team. Offensively, Reyes did it all. He carried the ball 42 times for 293 yards and four touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 288 yards and another four touchdowns. He finished with 1,073 all-purpose yards with 462 kickoff and punt return yards.
Cade Gallagher, Saugus, senior, WR/DB
The Centurions’ leading receiver caught 32 passes for 529 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He also returned kickoffs and punts for a combined 414 yards for a total of 943 yards of offense. Gallagher was third on the team with 61 tackles (43 solo), intercepted one pass and recovered a fumble.