By Matt Lechuga
For The Signal
Saugus handily won Friday night’s matchup of the Foothill League’s two best teams thanks to its suffocating defense, beating West Ranch 42-8 at College of the Canyons.
The win clinches the Centurions a share of its second straight Foothill League championship.
Coming into Friday’s game, the focus was centered around the potent West Ranch offense squaring off against the stout Saugus defense.
The Centurions (8-1, 4-0) were coming off three straight weeks of keeping their Foothill League opponents from scoring double digits and the Wildcats’ offense was averaging 37 points a game. By the end of the night, Saugus’ record stood strong while West Ranch was held to its lowest point total of the season.
The Centurions set the tone on the third play of the game when Junior Vinny Gallagher intercepted West Ranch’s Ryan Staub and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown and an early 7-0 Saugus lead.
“That’s a good football team right there,” said Gallagher. “But when you put Saugus football on the field, our offense and our defense are going to deliver. And that’s what we did tonight.”
The Wildcats (7-1, 3-1) struggled to get any momentum going, failing to convert four fourth down attempts, three in the first half. The first was a fake punt that was intercepted by Saugus. A 34-yard pass from senior quarterback Brady Welch to Austin Treahy got the Centurions down to the 1-yard line where, four plays later, Welch rushed in for the score.
After forcing a West Ranch three-and-out, Saugus put together an 11-play drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Welch to A.J. Goodman on the slant.
Another Wildcat three-and-out led to a 2-yard touchdown run from Gallagher that made the score 28-0. West Ranch, however, would not be held scoreless going into the half. After failing to score from the 2-yard line, the Wildcats tackled Saugus’ Jacob Vigor in the end zone for a safety, making it 28-2 at halftime.
“They have so many weapons that it’s hard to pinpoint or key in on any one individual,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “We really just made sure we were fundamentally sound on everything that they did to the best of our ability and made sure we were making tackles and defending the plays we knew they were going to run.”
After the teams traded interceptions to open up the third quarter, the West Ranch offense seemed to settle in. The Wildcats’ 13 play, 78-yard drive was capped by an 18-yard touchdown on a draw to running back Dylan Roof to make the score 28-8.
But Saugus countered just four plays later when Welch hit a wide open Khai Ky-yeith up the seam for a 79-yard touchdown.
After forcing another turnover on downs, the Centurions capped the scoring with a 1-yard run from Deohn Turner, making the final score 42-8.
“They were well prepared, we knew they were a good team, and we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times,” said West Ranch head coach Chris Varner. “They were the better team tonight but that’s why you play the game. We started getting a little momentum but they shut the door on a few things and we couldn’t capitalize on a few opportunities.”
Saugus will try to keep its league record spotless next week against Valencia while West Ranch will look to bounce back against Hart.