By Jonathan Andrade
For The Signal
West Ranch High School’s football team just didn’t have an answer for “The Bus.”
Braydon “The Bus” Brus, a Glendora High senior committed to Northwestern University, rushed for three second-half touchdowns to power the visiting Tartans to a 22-14 victory over the Wildcats Friday night at Valencia High.
“They utilized their size a little better (in the second half) and (Brus) got hot, which we were concerned with,” said West Ranch head coach Chris Varner. “We stressed all week about tackling low and we didn’t do that.”
After only managing three first downs in a scoreless first quarter, West Ranch got on the board first in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Ryan Staub marched the Wildcats 80 yards down the field, connecting on a 23-yard pass to junior receiver Chaz Hilst, which placed the Wildcats on the Glendora 1-yard line. Staub ran it in on the next play and junior kicker Jason Anderson split the uprights on the PAT to give West Ranch a 7-0 lead with 10:14 remaining in the second.
After a botched West Ranch punt attempt on the next Wildcat possession, Glendora was gifted a fresh set of downs on the Wildcat 10-yard line. West Ranch’s defense managed to hold the Tartans to a field goal before the half, but that was the beginning of Glendora’s 22 unanswered point streak.
In the third quarter, Glendora took its opening drive 80 yards, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Brus. The extra point was missed. Glendora added to its lead on its next possession. A 55-yard bomb from junior Jake Denerson to senior Jojo Najarro set up a 3-yard TD run from Brus with 1:29 left in the third. Brus found the end zone for his third score with 3:45 left on the clock to make it 22-7.
“We didn’t work as hard as we did in the first half,” said West Ranch junior receiver Brady Van Bennekum, who snagged an interception at safety in the first quarter. “We just didn’t execute. We’ll learn from this and keep going.”
Staub threw a touchdown strike to an open Derek Miranda with 2:14 left in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late for West Ranch.
“I’m really proud of how the team didn’t fold and we gave it a shot at the end,” Varner said.
Varner said the Wildcats scheduled easier opponents early in previous seasons, but he wanted to challenge his team this fall with a contender.
“We learned a lot,” Varner said. “That’s a solid team. We battled, but we didn’t do some things that we need to work on. I’d rather find that out Game 1 than Game 8.”
Van Bennekum, who took the spring football season off to focus on basketball, said he still has high hopes for his team this fall.
“We have more in us, for sure,” he said.
West Ranch plays host to Buena, Varner’s alma mater, at 7 p.m. next Friday.
“The plan is to get better each week,” Varner said.