By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
West Ranch football (3-0) has everything going right in the preseason following a huge win over Antelope Valley (0-3).
The Wildcats scored on every side of the ball and for the third straight game scored on a pick-six. Linebacker Brady Van Bennekum is the third different Wildcat to run back a score on defense.
Quarterback Ryan Staub led his team again with 208 passing yards and four TDs in barely over two quarters of work.
Staub now has 15 total touchdowns and no interceptions in three games.
The Wildcats didn’t waste any time starting the scoring as Maverick Diaz returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. It was the second week in a row Antelope Valley allowed an opening kickoff return for six.
Less than six minutes later, West Ranch scored on its first possession. The run attack and passing game both clicked early, and Isaac Ellis brought down a 35-yard touchdown from Staub.
Staub found Diaz for another 35-yard score on their next drive.
“I just have to trust my reads. I know my receivers will make great plays and get open,” said Staub. “I just have to put the ball in their hands and let them make a play.”
Van Bennekum then brought in the first interception of the night thanks to solid pressure from the West Ranch pass rush. Van Bennekum ran up in coverage to the flat when middle linebacker Connor Reyes got a great hit on the Antelope quarterback as he threw. Van Bennekum pulled down the wild ball and ran it back for six.
“We definitely can make more tackles but we’re looking good,” said Van Bennekum. “We’re improving game by game and I’m excited.”
Wildcat junior Michael Miller would block the punt on the next Antelope Valley possession to set up Staub in solid field position.
However, the one Wildcat mishap of the night would be an interception from Diaz on a trick play.
Shortly after, another Antelope interception gifted one more chance to West Ranch before the halftime break.
“The defense is playing opportunistically. It’s something we talk about,” said West Ranch head coach Chris Varner. “Just get around the ball and when you’re around there, good things happen.”
Wideout Chaz Hilst brought in the final score of the first half as time expired on a 22-yard strike from Staub.
Hilst leads all SCV receivers with seven touchdowns this year.
Running back brothers Ty and Luke DePerno both ran strong outings. Each found the end zone once. The senior Ty ran in the first score of the second half.
Ty finished with eight carries for 85 yards while the sophomore Luke ended his night with four carries for 40 yards.
“Between the two DePerno brothers it’s a good wham-bam combination,” said Varner. “We can’t rely on Ryan once we get into league because the teams are too good around here so we’ve had to focus on the run. That was our goal and I think we’ve taken some steps forward these last two weeks.”
West Ranch had overpowered three straight opponents this year as they now possess a 166-48 point differential. They’ve allowed one score in the last two weeks.
The team has plenty they wish to see out of themselves in their next outing against St. Paul. The road matchup will be the Wildcats’ final non-league matchup before heading into Foothill play.
“League play is no joke so we just have to sharpen up everything,” said Staub.
West Ranch heads to St. Paul Friday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m.