By Ryan Menzie
Signal Staff Writer
With one week in the books, the high school football teams of Santa Clarita are ready for another chance to build early-season success. Here are the matchups leading into the second week of the season:
Valencia at Quartz Hill
The Valencia Vikings open their season on the road against the Quartz Hill Royals at Quartz Hill on Friday at 7 p.m. The Vikings are coming off a 4-1 season, but it marked the first time they didn’t win the Foothill League title in 11 seasons as they to the Saugus Centurions 21-7 in the final game of the season. The Royals will be playing their second game of the season after losing 56-0 to Oxnard.
The Royals are also coming off a 4-1 season in which they finished in second place in the Golden League. The Royals are no strangers to the Foothill League teams, facing the Golden Valley Grizzlies (lost 33-21) and the West Ranch Wildcats (lost 35-6 in playoffs) during the 2019 season.
The Vikings will look to senior Zamondre Merriweather, a wide receiver and safety who’s ranked among the top 50 players in the state, and senior Tyler Voss, quarterback who finished with 1,350 total yards of offense and 10 total touchdowns last season, to start their season off right heading into the 2021 campaign.
Golden Valley at Burbank
The Golden Valley Grizzlies will also be playing their first game on the road against the Burbank Bulldogs at Burbank on Friday at 7 p.m. The Grizzlies are coming off a 2-2-1 season, good enough to tie for third place in the Foothill League.
The Bulldogs will be playing their second game of the season after dropping their first game to Simi Valley 63-19, and face the Grizzlies for the second time in three seasons. The Grizzlies won the previous matchup 43-28.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 1-3 season and look to end their losing streak as the Grizzlies look to build off last season and win their season opener once more. The Grizzlies will look to their senior running back Jared Giles, who accounted for 515 total yards of offense, and senior tight end and linebacker Nick Machado.
Canyon vs. St. Genevieve
The Canyon Cowboys, who had their first game of the season cancelled due to a COVID-19 precaution, will now begin their season at home against the St. Genevieve Valiants at Canyon High School on Friday at 7 p.m. The Cowboys are coming off an 0-5 season and look to change their fortunes this season with their first win in 12 games. The Valiants are coming off a 4-1 season after finishing 4-6 during the 2019 season.
Cowboys’ senior wide receiver JJ Fechtelkotter and senior linebacker Derek Gonzalez look to change the narrative of their program and have high hopes for this season. Head coach Joe Maiale’s advice: They just have to learn from their mistakes to become contenders in the Foothill League.
Saugus at Moorpark
The Saugus Centurions are coming off their first win of the season after beating Santa Barbara 35-0 and look to continue their momentum facing the Moorpark Musketeers, who lost their season opener to Royal 7-3.
Senior quarterback Sebastian Dallaire led the way for the Centurion offense, finishing with eight completions for 129 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to junior wide receiver Khai Ky-yeith to go along with his 50 yards on two receptions. Despite only finishing with 202 yards of total offense as a team, the Centurions were able to capitalize on two forced turnovers and three sacks, which provided great field position.
The Centurions will look to push their win streak to eight in a row dating back to the 2019 season.
Hart at Granada Hills Charter
The Hart Indians are coming off their first loss of the season against Camarillo, 20-7, and will look to bounce back against the Granada Hills Charter Highlanders, who are coming off their first win of the season against Arleta, 40-8.
Most of the Indians’ struggles came off their five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble) and they were not able to produce much until the fourth quarter. The bright spot for the Indians was their defense, which forced five turnovers and only gave up one touchdown until the fourth quarter, when they unleashed a more aggressive defense in an attempt to get the ball back. Sophomore quarterback Tim Larkins finished the day with 201 yards of total offense.
The Indians will face the Highlanders at College of the Canyons on Friday at 7 p.m.
West Ranch vs. Buena
The West Ranch Wildcats play their second game of the season, and their first at home, against the Buena Bulldogs at Valencia High School on Friday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs lost their first game to Oak Park, 22-21, and the Wildcats lost their first game to Glendora, 22-14
Wildcats junior quarterback Ryan Staub finished the game with 15 completions for 203 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to senior running back Derek Miranda. Staub also accounted for a rushing touchdown. The game was relatively clean, with only one interception being thrown by Glendora junior quarterback Jake Denerson, which accounted for the only turnover of the game.
The Wildcats will now look to get their first win of the season at home.
Trinity Classical Academy at Duarte
The Trinity Classical Academy Knights will play their second road game of the season against the Duarte Falcons at Duarte on Saturday at 11 a.m. The Falcons are set to play their first game of the season while the Knights look to bounce back after a 64-24 loss to Campbell Hall.
Knights senior quarterback Wil Jackson finished the day with 17 completions for 246 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Jackson also rushed seven times for 65 yards and a rushing touchdown. Senior wide receiver AJ Horning also had himself a day, finishing with 163 receiving yards on six catches and hauling in two touchdowns.
The Campbell Hall offense proved to be too much, with junior quarterback Isaiah Sepand finishing the day with 265 yards on 13 completions to go along with his five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Castaic at Villa Park
The Castaic Coyotes begin their season on the road against the Villa Park Spartans at Villa Park on Friday at 5 p.m. The Spartans will also be playing their first game of the season. The young Coyote program will use this season to show why they belong with the rest of the Foothill League as they look to join next season.
The Coyotes are extra motivated after the July death of one of their teammates, Nathan Esparza, who was found dead in his home from a reported cardiac arrest. Junior running back and wide receiver Anthony Martinez will look to build off his sophomore season, in which he finished with 109 yards on 30 carries and 19 receptions for 229 yards to go along with his four total touchdowns in four games.
The Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals will be playing their first game on Thursday, Sept. 2, at 6:30 p.m. against Flintridge Prep at Flintridge Prep.