Wildcats quarterback Ryan Staub tosses four touchdowns, has 21 on the season
The West Ranch Wildcats (5-0, 1-0) proved Friday night at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium that their perfect start to the season was no joke, shutting out the Canyon Cowboys (2-3, 0-1), 45-0, on homecoming in the opening week of Foothill League play.
“When I set the schedule, I was hoping that we would get out of pre-league undefeated,” West Ranch head coach Chris Varner said. “I’ve just been impressed with how the team has come together. We still have better football to play. We still can do better.”
If there’s a better version of this Wildcats team, the rest of the Foothill League better watch out.
West Ranch senior quarterback Ryan Staub was 12-of-19 passing for 210 yards and four touchdowns. All four scores were thrown to different receivers. In total, the Wildcats put up 410 yards of offense, 210 coming in the first half.
“We have four senior receivers. They’re all just really good players,” Staub said. “They get open and they make me look really good.”
The first touchdown went to senior Will Seidel, a 14-yard bullet for Seidel’s fourth of the season. The second was a 38-yard strike to senior Maverick Diaz, his sixth touchdown catch on the year.
Sophomore Luke DePerno added a rushing score from 21 yards out to finish off the first quarter with West Ranch leading, 21-0. He would finish with 72 yards on just eight carries.
“Luke’s a huge player for us,” Staub said. “He’s only a sophomore. He stepped up huge. He’s been a great running back for us, getting first downs on crucial plays and always fighting for the extra yards. He’s a huge player for us.”
Staub tossed a ball 16 yards early in the second quarter to senior Chaz Hilst to make it 28-0. That was Hilst’s ninth touchdown on the season. Senior Isaac Ellis then caught a touchdown from eight yards out for his third of the year.
Seidel finished with five catches for 86 yards, Diaz had an astonishing 90 yards on just three catches, Hilst had three catches for 26 yards, and junior Jack Samuelson had three catches for 61 yards.
In between those final two scores was an interception returned for a touchdown by Brady Van Bennekum from 21 yards out. That gives the Wildcats three pick sixes in five games.
For extra measure, the Wildcats sent out junior Jarrett Smith to kick a 31-yard field goal to close out the second half, and, fittingly, he split the uprights perfectly to make it 45-0.
Just before that, Varner took out most of his starters for the final series of the first half, giving his players some extra rest before a key matchup next week against Saugus, the two-time defending league champions.
“This team, the seniors have never beat Saugus, so they certainly want to go out there and have a good showing and do better than we did last year,” Varner said.
Saugus won last year’s matchup, 42-8.
Staub was happy to watch the second half from the sidelines knowing that, with the game already wrapped up, his focus could start to shift to next week’s game.
“This game has been circled ever since last year,” Staub said. “I mean, I can’t wait. This is the stuff that I dream about and keeps me up at night, so I can’t wait.”
Canyon head coach Ken Holsenbeck had nothing but praise for the Wildcats after watching his Cowboys unable to keep up with one of the frontrunners for the Foothill League title.
“West Ranch is certainly someone who should be competing, probably, for league title here, and they definitely showed it,” Holsenbeck said.
Canyon saw junior Ganisten Turner lead the team with 16 carries for 45 yards. Sophomore Evan Watts had 10 carries for 38 yards.
The Wildcats will probably be looking to see more of Staub, set to graduate after this December before enrolling at the University of Colorado to fight for the quarterback job for the Buffaloes, for the rest of the season. But Varner may already have his replacement in freshman Jackson Presley, who recently transferred from Alemany to West Ranch and, according to 247 Sports, already has offers from Florida State, Texa A&M and the University of Arizona.
“Jackson, we have high hopes for him in the future,” Varner said. “Right now, he’s just trying to shadow Ryan.”
Varner said that Presley would most likely be in a fight with junior Zach Wyre for next year’s spot at quarterback. Wyre was 5-of-9 for 72 yards with an interception in Friday’s game.
“He did really well,” Varner said. “Had a lot of poise in there and some good runs and good throws. So hopefully we’ll have a nice little competition coming in next year.”
Canyon can now turn its focus to Castaic, as the Cowboys have a bye before hosting the Coyotes Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at Canyon High.
West Ranch returns to COC next Friday, though as the visiting team against Saugus. That game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. at Cougars Stadium.