West Ranch beats two-time defending league champs, now 2-0 in league play
West Ranch senior Ryan Staub is on a mission.
That mission: A first Foothill League title for his team.
The Wildcats (6-0, 2-0) took their latest, and possibly greatest, step toward that mission on Friday, getting revenge on the Saugus Centurions (4-2, 1-1) for last year’s loss, winning 43-6 at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium.
“It’s a little bit of revenge. Last year, they embarrassed us, and this year it feels a whole lot different,” Staub said.
Saugus won last year’s contest, 42-8, en route to a second straight league title.
The senior quarterback tossed five touchdowns and threw for 390 yards on 26-of-39 passing, adding 99 yards rushing on just two carries, including a 73-yard run in the third quarter. He now has 26 touchdowns on the year against no interceptions.
“We watched a ton of film this week at practice,” Staub said. “We had an amazing week at practice. The O-line was unbelievable. They have a great pass rush. My receivers just made plays like they always do, every single week.”
West Ranch senior Chaz Hilst had three of those touchdown receptions. Two of those came in the first half, which saw West Ranch take a 23-6 lead into the half. That came after Saugus pulled within a score at 9-6 midway through the first quarter.
West Ranch head coach Chris Varner wasn’t worried at that point, though. His defense, which entered Friday having given up 9.6 points per game, was ready for the challenge, in his mind.
“We’ve been lucky. We’ve had a lot of the same kids now for a couple seasons,” Varner said. “And Saugus always has a sprinkle or two up their sleeve, so we were just prepared for that, stay back a bit, see if they can keep up with our storms.”
West Ranch senior Brady Van Bennekum grabbed two fumble recoveries on defense, while senior Grayson Gill had an interception and a sack. Junior Aidan Lombardo had a sack as well.
Saugus, which hadn’t lost a game in the Foothill League since Oct. 26, 2019, a 37-6 loss against Valencia, will now look to recover, both mentally and physically. Centurions head coach Jason Bornn indicated that his team was dealing with some nagging injuries, and that a bye week before traveling to play Hart on Oct. 7 could do wonders.
“Definitely a positive,” Bornn said, referring to the bye week. “I mean, it gives us time to recover. And we’re really banged up. You know, we played a pretty rigorous preseason, and Valencia last week. So it was definitely smoke and mirrors. We were trying to do the best we could. We’re just banged up right now.”
Saugus senior TJ Cataldi was 11-of-23 for 172 yards passing and one touchdown. That went to senior AJ Goodman, a 90-yard bomb that saw Cataldi toss it roughly 50 yards before Goodman ran it the rest of the way.
Staub, though, nearly matched that, tossing a 72-yard pass to Hilst for their second hookup of the day just a few plays later. Hilst ended the game with 152 yards receiving. Senior Isaac Ellis had five catches for 70 yards with a touchdown, and senior Maverick Diaz had five catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
West Ranch sophomore Luke DePerno had 15 carries for 114 yards. Senior Ty DePerno had four carries for 11 yards and a touchdown to go along with two catches for 20 yards.
Saugus senior Vinny Gallagher led the Centurions with 59 rushing yards on 13 carries. Senior Jake Viger, the reigning Foothill League Player of the Year, had just two carries for 2 yards, and he was one of those players that Bornn mentioned as being “banged up.”
West Ranch also has Hart as its next opponent. The Wildcats will travel to play the Indians at COC next Friday, and Varner doesn’t want his team to forget that every game matters.
“We’re thinking nothing but Hart,” Varner said. “Hart’s the next thing, and then we’ll move on from there.”