By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
Foothill League matchups are back.
Over the next five weeks, six teams will battle each other on for the Victory Bell, awarded each year to the Foothill League champions — a tradition that dates back more than five decades.
The path to a league championship kicks off Friday. Here’s the schedule for the upcoming week:
Valencia vs West Ranch
The Valena Vikings (2-2) take on the West Ranch Wildcats (4-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Valencia High School. The Vikings are coming off a 15-13 win against Westlake, while the Wildcats are coming off a bye week, but won their most recent matchup against Crespi.
In their 2020 matchup, the Vikings won, 63-20. Vikings quarterback Tyler Voss threw for 435 yards and three touchdowns while also running for 23 yards and one rushing touchdown.
The Vikings, along with Voss, will follow behind one of the top players in the state wide receiver Zamondre Merriweather, who has a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown and over 300 yards receiving on the season.
The Wildcats will look to continue their hot start to the season behind their rising star quarterback Ryan Staub who has thrown for 1458 yards in five games to go along with his 13 touchdowns. Staub has also contributed 180 yards rushing to go along with his four rushing touchdowns.
Golden Valley vs Hart
The Golden Valley Grizzlies (2-2) go up against the Hart Indians (1-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons. The Grizzlies are coming off a 56-21 win against Crescenta Valley while the Indians are coming off a 25-14 loss against Downey.
In their 2020 matchup, the Grizzlies and Indians tied in a 7-7 game.
Grizzlies head coach Dan Kelley is excited for the first league matchup, but says they prep the same for every game.
“We take each game one week at a time,” said Kelley. “Hart’s defense is always solid. The guys up front are really good and their quarterback is doing solid. We got to get to the quarterback while also keying in on tackling. We need to execute on offense as well. We did a better job last week and we got to keep the momentum going each week with execution on offense.”
Indians head coach Rick Herrington also has the same mutual respect for Kelley and the Grizzlies. Herrington isn’t happy with his teams 1-4 pre-league record, but reiterated to his team the season starts today and they just have to keep going up from here.
“A whole new season begins Friday,” said Herrington. “Every game means a lot in terms of getting to the playoffs. Hopefully they come out and play harder or as hard they have the last couple of weeks. Golden Valley puts a lot of pressure on defense. They are tough because they got good athletes on defense. We’re looking forward to trying something about that.”
Saugus vs Canyon
The Saugus Centurions (4-1) face off against the Canyon Cowboys (2-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Canyon High School. Both teams are coming off a bye week. The Centurions’ most recent game ended with a 35-12 win against Oxnard. The Cowboys lost two weeks ago against Kennedy, 29-11.
In the 2020 Canyon-Saugus matchup, the Centurions won, 41-20.
Centurions head coach Jason Bornn is focused on this season, and sees Canyon has been doing well this season so he doesn’t want to take them lightly.
“Canyon has tremendous athletes and we know they are coached well, so we have our hands full,” said Bornn. “No. 1 thing we have to do is protect the ball. Offensively for any success, we need to protect the ball. Special teams wise we’ve gotta make the plays. Defensively we have to get 11 players to the ball every play.”
Cowboys head coach Joe Maiale is excited to get league play started with all the great competition in the Foothill League and shared mutual respect for the Centurions.
“Saugus is a great team that is greatly coached,” said Maiale. “Saugus is a tough team and we’ve had a lot of preparation coming into the game. We need to keep things clean and start off fast. We’ve gotten out to slow starts and gotten ourselves in bad positions. We can’t afford to do that against Saugus.”
The rest of the Santa Clarita football schedule
Trinity Classical Academy (4-1) is scheduled to play against Silver Valley on Friday at 7 p.m. at Silver Valley.
Santa Clarita Christian School (0-4) is scheduled to play against Cate (3-0) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at West Ranch.
Castaic High School (2-2) is scheduled to play against Hoover Glendale (5-0) on Friday at 5 p.m. at Hoover Glendale.