By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
Santa Clarita Valley football fans were fortunate enough to see a majority of the high schools extend their season into the playoffs, with one team still playing football games all the way until December.
The Valencia Vikings finished with a 2-2 Foothill League record (8-5 overall) and entered the CIF playoffs as a Division 5 team. The Vikings would end up being the only team from the SCV to advance out of the first round.
“What a great season it was. It was certainly a roller coaster ride,” said Vikings head coach Larry Muir. “When you look at the big picture there is certainly a share of frustration and disappointment as well. Of course, there was a share of extreme highs with us winning the CIF championship. The resiliency of the kids really showed with their ability to rise up after all the frustration throughout the season. If there was anything we learned, it would be if we just invest in ourselves and lean in on one another, great things can happen.”
The Vikings’ only road game of the CIF playoffs was in the first round, with the Vikings playing their next four games at home, including the CIF Southern Section finals where they beat Oaks Christian, 28-14, before losing to Scripps Ranch 45-38 in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Vikings also placed a flurry of players on the CIF Southern Section-Foothill League All-League teams. Senior wide receiver Duhron Goodman, senior running back Giorgio Spiropoulos and junior kicker Cameron Fontal made the first team All-League offense. Senior linebacker Jake Stitch and sophomore linebacker Reid Farrell made the first team All-League defense.
“We started off kind of rough, but when we got into the playoffs, we realized we only have so many games left,” said Spiropoulos. “It was not worth not working hard. As good of a season as I may have had, I wouldn’t be able to do it without my offensive line. I get the glory but I got the best offensive line and they deserve all the credit.”
The Saugus Centurions (9-2, 5-0) were crowned the Foothill League champions for the second season in a row after overtaking the Vikings, who had won the league title the previous 11 seasons. The Centurions came into the CIF Division 3 playoffs as the only team from the SCV to have a home playoff game opener, but lost to Rancho Cucamonga 21-7.
The Centurions were home to the Foothill League Player of the Year, senior running back and linebacker Jacob Viger. The Centurions also had the Lineman of the Year, junior Dario Sandoval, and Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Dylan Hampsten.
Those earning first team All-League offense honors for the Centurions include senior quarterback Brady Welch, senior quarterback turned wide receiver Sebastian Dallaire, junior wide receiver A.J. Goodman and senior running back Jacob Faraldo.
Senior defensive lineman Brandon Lee, senior linebacker Blake Zimmerman, senior defensive back Cody Collier and junior defensive back Vinny Gallagher were named to the first team All-League defense.
The West Ranch Wildcats (8-3, 4-1) finished second on the Foothill League standings after losing to the Centurions 42-8 in a week four matchup of the league season. The Wildcats entered the CIF Division 4 playoffs and lost in the first round to Lawndale, 34-14.
“I think under the circumstances of not having a true offseason, I was very pleased with what my team was able to accomplish,” said Wildcats head coach Chris Varner. “The kids earned their recognition. None of this was ever given. We can only control the things we can control and my kids went further than I probably could have imagined.”
The Wildcats were led by the Foothill League Offensive Player of the Year, junior quarterback Ryan Staub. Staub broke the Wildcats’ single-game passing record in a 62-38 victory against Pacifica, throwing for 455 yards and six touchdowns and also rushing for 75 yards with one touchdown. The previous record was set by Walker Eget with 451 yards.
Along with Staub, the Wildcats were led by several players named to the first team All-League offense: senior wide receiver Dylan Cotti, and junior wide receivers Maverick Diaz and Chaz Hilst. Junior linebacker Brady Van Bennekum, senior defensive lineman Thomas Wunsh and junior defensive lineman Griffin Nibarger were named to the first team All-League defense.
The Golden Valley Grizzlies (3-8, 2-3) finished tied for third in the Foothill League standings. The Grizzlies competed in the CIF Division 7 playoffs and lost in the first round to La Mirada, 35-29.
The Grizzlies were led by their first team All-League offense honorees, senior quarterback Jaxson Miner and senior running back Jared Giles. Senior linebacker Nicholas Machado finished with first team All-League defense honors.
The Hart Indians (3-7, 2-3) tied with the Grizzlies, but with a coin toss the Indians were ruled out of playoff contention. Senior wide receiver Daniel Larkins received first team All-League offense honors while junior linebacker Alberto Favela, defensive end Cole Spivey and senior punter Daniel Delgado received first team All-League defense honors.
The Canyon Cowboys round out the Foothill League, finishing in sixth place. The Cowboys were led by second team All-League offense honoree, senior quarterback Landon Naasz, and senior linebacker Derek Gonzalez made the second team All-League defense.
The Trinity Classical Academy Knights (7-3, 3-2) competed in the Cross Valley League and finished third overall. The placement still landed them a spot in the CIF Division 13 playoffs, but they would lose in the first round to Anaheim, 45-6.
The Santa Clarita Christian School Cardinals competed on a freelance schedule and had their share of struggles throughout the season. Despite the struggles, they had the chance to compete in a playoff matchup against California School of the Deaf-Riverside, but would end the match with a loss.
The Castaic Coyotes (4-4) also competed on a freelance schedule. The Coyotes played a mix of junior varsity and varsity games against various opponents. Next season the expectations are the Coyotes will be competing as the newest team in the Foothill League.