By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
Santa Clarita football is nearing the end of its season as the teams officially have two more weeks of regular season before heading into the playoffs. The contests this week consist of a match that will more than likely decide the Foothill League champion, a historic matchup and a battle of two teams who have struggled but still have time to turn their season around.
Here are the matchups to look for this week:
West Ranch vs. Saugus
The West Ranch Wildcats (7-1, 3-0) take on the Saugus Centurions (7-1, 3-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons. This game could ultimately decide the Foothill League winner as the Wildcats’ scorching offense matches up with the Centurions’ suffocating defense.
Centurions head coach Jason Bornn is aware of the implications for the upcoming matchup, but wants to keep the mindset for his players to look at this as another contest.
“We don’t approach this like it’s a big game,” said Bornn. “We don’t talk that way with our kids and our community. It’s always going to be about us performing to the best of our ability. We are aware of the implications of the outcome but it’s just another opportunity to display what we do.”
Wildcats head coach Chris Varner has seen the journey his team has taken and is excited to see what the team can accomplish as they look for their first foothill league title in school history.
“This is what you set out to do at the beginning of the season,” said Varner. “We just got to clean up some mistakes we’ve made over the last couple of weeks. It’s not really about them, it’s more a matter of us performing to the best of our ability. They are very well coached and coach Bornn is going to have his guys ready. We got to go out and do our best and see how it goes.”
The Wildcats have scored 297 points this season while the Centurions have only allowed 61 points.
Hart vs. Canyon
The Hart Indians (2-6, 1-2) go up against the Canyon Cowboys (2-5, 0-3) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Canyon. The Indians and Cowboys are the two oldest teams in the Foothill League facing off in their 54th match all time.
The Indians and the Cowboys were the only two teams in the valley from 1969 to 1975. Since 1969, the Indians have been awarded The Signal’s Victory Bell, which represents SCV football supremacy, 23 times to the Cowboys’ 12 times.
Although both teams have struggled this season, historically the Cowboys and Indians have been at the top of the Foothill League and should provide another matchup of historic proportions.
“Obviously the kids are excited for the huge rivalry against Hart. It’s a really cool tradition to be a part of,” said Cowboys head coach Joe Maiale. “It’s a special week around campus and we’re really looking forward to it, but the mentality remains the same nonetheless. We want to look at how they are lined up and we just have to keep improving on our execution and keep doing better at the things we do best.”
Indians head coach Rick Herrington also understands the magnitude of this historic rivalry.
“It’s always a big game since it is our rival,” said Herrington. “The players get pretty pumped to play as usual and we’re looking forward to the opportunity. Our guys have practiced hard this week after our big win last week so we’re happy about that. We’re looking forward to the matchup.”
Valencia vs. Golden Valley
The Valencia Vikings (3-4, 1-2) take on the Golden Valley Grizzlies (3-4, 1-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Valencia. Both teams have been struggling this season but with three spots open for CIF playoffs, they along with Hart High School have a chance to take the third spot with West Ranch and Saugus presumably taking the top two spots.
Grizzlies head coach Dan Kelley understands how talented the Vikings’ roster is despite their struggles this season.
“Valencia is one of those teams that you prepare for week in and week out,” said Kelley. “They are well-coached and got some great players over there. We have to account for their receivers and running backs who can move the ball down the field. Their defense is also comparable to Saugus with how aggressive they play and we have to be able to execute on offense with a balanced attack. We talked about our mistakes from the last game so we have to get over the hurdle mentally. We’ve got to focus on what we need to do this week to beat Valencia.”
The rest of the Santa Clarita football schedule
The Trinity Classical Academy Knights (6-2, 2-1) take on The Webb Schools Gauls (1-5, 1-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at The Webb Schools.
The Santa Clarita Christian School Cardinals (0-7) take on the St. Joseph Academy Crusaders (5-3) on Saturday at 12 noon at West Ranch.
The Castaic Coyotes (4-3) take on the Liberty Patriots (5-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Liberty.