Santa Clarita Valley playoff football preview

Saugus' Vinny Gallagher (33) resists an attempt to tackle him by West Ranch players during Friday night's game. October 22, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

By Ryan Menzie 

Signal Sports Writer  

The postseason is set to begin for the teams of the Santa Clarita Valley with six teams making the postseason. Here is the schedule for the first weekend of the CIF playoffs: 

Saugus vs. Rancho Cucamonga  

The Centurions (9-1, 5-0) take on the Rancho Cucamonga Cougars (5-5, 2-2) Friday at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons in the Division III playoffs. The Centurions are the only team from the SCV to play a home game in their first-round matchup and are coming off a perfect record in the Foothill League while the Cougars had their chance against Valencia, beating them 31-28.  

The Centurions started the season with Sebastian Dallaire at quarterback, and he would end up finishing with 748 yards and eight touchdowns. About midway through the season, Brady Welch became the starting quarterback after not having been with the team and in just four games would finish with 981 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dallaire would then move to his more natural position at wide receiver, where he finished with 21 catches, 301 yards and four touchdowns. 

The storyline for the Centurions is coming off their second league title in a row and only allowing 69 points all season. The Centurions will look to keep their hot streak as the No. 1 team from the SCV. 

West Ranch vs. Lawndale  

The West Ranch Wildcats (8-2, 4-1) are scheduled to play against the Lawndale Cardinals (6-3, 5-0) 7 p.m. Friday at Lawndale in the Division IV playoffs. The Wildcats finished second in the Foothill League with a win against Hart High the last week of the regular season and suffered their only loss in league to the Centurions.  

The Wildcats are led by quarterback Ryan Staub, who finished the regular season with 2,295 yards on 143 completions to go along with 19 passing touchdowns while also rushing 29 times for 313 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Staub will look to the postseason to replicate the same offensive power as the Wildcats’ 326-point season.  

Valencia vs. Rio Mesa  

The Vikings (4-5, 2-3) take on the Rio Mesa Spartans (7-3, 4-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Rio Mesa for the Division V playoffs. The Vikings have had a rollercoaster season, with starting quarterback Tyler Voss having gone down early in the season and the team having two games canceled due to COVID-19.  

Despite all that, head coach Larry Muir is excited that his team can continue their season. 

“It’s been a good week of practice and it’s been exciting for the kids,” said Muir. “It’s all about survival and advancement for us. Every week we got to go 1-0 so the goal is to stay sharp and minimize mistakes as much as we can. The team with the least mistakes is going to win the football game.” 

While Voss was out, quarterback Trey Erickson took the helm and had 587 yards and eight touchdowns in five games. Receiver Zamondre Merriweather, who came into the season as a top 50 player in the state, finished the season with 24 catches for 300 yards and two touchdowns, completing two passes for 71 yards and a passing touchdown and five rushes for 20 yards and one touchdown.  

Golden Valley vs. La Mirada  

The Grizzlies (4-5, 2-3) are scheduled to play against the La Mirada Matadores (6-4, 3-1) 7 p.m. Friday at La Mirada for the Division VII playoffs. The Grizzlies won their final game of the season, which allowed a chance of a coin toss to make the playoffs. The Grizzlies’ luck was answered. 

“They’ve got a great football team that runs the ball many different ways with a lot of different formations,” said head coach Dan Kelley. “Defensively they’re strong in the box with physical linebackers and defensive linemen. For us now it is one-game elimination. If you don’t play mentally and physically prepared, you are not moving on. The team that prepares the best continues. We’ve had a playoff dry spell since 2017 so I’m proud of the kids for making it back.” 

The Grizzlies are led by quarterback Jaxson Miner, who finished with 1,148 passing yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for three more touchdowns. Running back Jared Giles led the ground attack with 1,035 yards and 11 touchdowns.  

Trinity vs. Anaheim 

The Knights (7-3, 3-2) take on the Anaheim Colonists (6-4, 4-1) 7 p.m. Friday at Anaheim in the Division XIII playoffs. The Knights enter the playoffs having lost their final game of the regular season, but with the strength of schedule have moved up a couple divisions.  

“We try to handle it like it’s another week and another game,” said head coach Mike Parrinello. “We’re excited to be in the playoffs. We really didn’t think that was something we could obtain. We’re happy to be here and we’re kind of looking at it like it’s a bonus for us. Obviously, we’re preparing for Anaheim. They’re a big school. It’s going to be a challenge but we have a good game plan together for them.”  

The Knights are led by quarterback Wil Jackson, who finished the regular season with 1,330 yards and nine passing touchdowns while also rushing 43 times for 232 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. AJ Horning leads the receivers with 48 catches for 732 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing 17 times for 103 yards and one touchdown. 

SCCS vs. California School of the Deaf  

The Cardinals (0-9) are scheduled to play against the California School of the Deaf-Riverside Cubs (9-0, 3-0) 7 p.m. Friday at Riverside in the 8-man Division II playoffs. Despite going winless, the Cardinals and head coach Austin Fry have made the playoffs, but Fry and his team are ready to silence the doubters. 

“We’re happy to be in the playoffs. Win or lose, it’s a good first year for our staff,” said Fry. “As an 0-9 team people may wonder why we’re in the playoffs. We just see it as a second chance in a season we thought was over. If we lose, we’re done. We have played a tough schedule, playing six of the top 10 eight-man teams in California. The record may not show it, but we have played tough football and we are ready for the playoffs.” 

The Cardinals are led by quarterback Cayden Rappleye, who finished with 1,282 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 70 yards and one touchdown. Running back Cooper Duhm rushed for 562 yards and eight touchdowns while hauling in 13 catches for 105 yards and three touchdowns.  

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