FOOTHILL LEAGUE WEEK 10 STANDINGS
- West Ranch (10-0, 6-0)**
- Saugus (7-2, 4-1)*
- Golden Valley (6-3, 3-2)
- Hart (3-6, 2-3)
- Valencia (4-5, 2-3)
- Canyon (3-6, 1-4)
- Castaic (1-8, 0-5)
** Clinched Foothill League title
*Clinched playoff berth
By Justin Vigil-Zuniga and Tyler Wainfeld
Signal Sports Writers
The final week of the regular season is here with everything on the line for the majority of the Foothill League.
Two playoff spots remain wide open while only one team has been eliminated.
West Ranch will be the last team to take a bye and rest up before heading into the postseason.
Santa Clarita Christian School finished league play with a bang but will still look to close out its season on a strong note before heading to the postseason.
Castaic takes on Hart in Uebelhardt’s homecoming
The Indians have found their rhythm at the tail end of the season, winning their last two games.
A win over Castaic on Thursday to close out the regular season would see Hart finish at 3-3 in the Foothill League and give the Indians an outside shot at the playoffs.
Castaic head coach Tony Uebelhardt will face his former team, where he coached for several seasons under Mike Herrington. Uebelhardt has looked forward this matchup all year.
Hart head coach Rick Herrington has been able to get his players to play the kind of defense he loves out of his teams, holding opponents to 18.4 points in five league games. That sort of performance should be counted on again against a Castaic team that is averaging just 5.8 points in its five league games.
Offense is where both teams have struggled at times this season, though the Indians were able to come through when it mattered last week when junior Timmy Larkins hit junior Shawn Irwin for a walk-off touchdown to beat Valencia and keep Hart in the playoff hunt.
The Coyotes were unable to get much going in last week’s loss to West Ranch. With sophomore quarterback Dominic Espinoza being held out in that one due to a concussion, junior Lucas Milan moved from receiver to under center, and he performed admirably to move the Coyotes down the field only to be stopped time and time again.
Whether Hart can have the same defensive stops that the Wildcats got, could go a long way in the Indians getting the win.
Hart and Castaic kick off at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Signal Staff Picks
Justin Vigil-Zuniga: Larkins, Dunn and Irwin keep on rolling, 38-20 Hart.
Tyler Wainfeld: Hart’s defense stands out once again. 28-10 Hart.
Saugus and Golden Valley battle for second place
Golden Valley’s season is on the line going into week 11. If the Grizzlies can get a win over Saugus, they’re in. If they lose, they have a good shot at still making the playoffs but could find themselves in a three-way tie for third place.
The Centurions are already in but won’t let up on the gas just yet. Head coach Jason Bornn will want his team as sharp as ever with just a week left before another postseason journey begins.
Saugus’ playoff ride was cut short last season when the team fell in the first round to Rancho Cucamonga. The senior-heavy Centurions will hope to finish their high school careers with a ring in whatever division they may end up in.
Golden Valley was also turned away last season in a heartbreaking loss to La Mirada. The team has been itching to get back to November football and show they belong.
The Grizzlies are coming off a late bye so we can expect the team will be well-rested and prepared for Saugus.
Golden Valley’s Ajani Smith will be in two key matchups throughout the game. On offense, Smith will have to deal with one of the Foothill League’s best corners in Jadon Lemmons. On defense, Smith will be tasked with deep threat AJ Goodman. Lemmons and Smith have both been outstanding in coverage this season and will have their high school regular season finale when the seniors face off Friday.
Saugus hosts Golden Valley at Canyon, Friday at 7 p.m.
Justin Vigil-Zuniga: Centurions will fight for a win in any circumstance, 27-24 Saugus.
Tyler Wainfeld: Saugus does just enough to secure second place. 24-20 Saugus.
Valencia hosts Canyon with a ton of playoff implications
Yes, there is a chance Canyon can still make the playoffs. The Cowboys will need a huge win over the Vikings as well as some other things to fall their way to force another coin flip. Should Castaic beat Hart on Thursday, a win would put Canyon in a three-way tie for fourth place.
The mountain is a steep one but the Cowboys will be fighting for it. Running backs Ganisten Turner and Evan Watts have shown impressive footwork on the ground. The Canyon pass rush will need to come alive and find a way to slow down the Valencia ground and pound.
For the Vikings, a win puts them at 3-3 with the potential of standing alone at fourth place. However, Valencia’s chances may come down to a coin flip whether they win or lose for the second year in a row.
Vikings’ running back Daniel Hernandez went well over 150 all-purpose yards in the loss at Hart. Quarterback Trey Erickson has done a great job spreading the ball around and usually hits several different receivers every Friday.
The Valencia defense may be coming off a loss but the group blew right through the Hart offensive line all game long. The pass rush will look to wreck one last regular season game and hold Canyon to seven points or less for the sixth straight year.
Valencia hosts Canyon Friday at 7 p.m.
Justin Vigil-Zuniga: Vikings’ defense gets it done, 38-21 Valencia.
Tyler Wainfeld: Vikings solidify their playoff positioning with a strong offensive showing. 35-14 Valencia.
Trinity looking to finish strong against Western Christian
The Knights (3-5, 0-4) haven’t had the best of showings in Mesquite League play thus far, dropping all four games in what is the first year in the new league for Trinity.
Their last chance to claim a victory comes on Friday against the Western Christian Fighting Lancers (1-3, 4-5).
The Fighting Lancers have picked up one win in league play while scoring just 9.3 points in their four league games, a notch below Trinity’s mark of 14.5 points per game. But their defense has been a step above Trinity’s, giving up 24.8 points per game compared to 39.5 for the Knights.
Trinity senior Rocco Izzo added some carries to his already impressive season as a pass catcher in last week’s loss to Capistrano Valley Christian, picking up 71 yards on nine carries. He’s averaged 31.3 receiving yards per game, though his service has been limited of late, being held to two catches in each of Trinity’s last two games.
Izzo will probably have sophomore Noah Visconti as the Knights’ signal caller. Visconti has started each of the last two games for Trinity head coach Mike Parrinello.
Western Christian’s offense has been a multi-faceted air attack this season. Junior Jared Doolittle has thrown for 1,116 yards and 16 touchdowns in seven games. The Fighting Lancers have three receivers with over 200 receiving yards on the season, with one more just 21 yards away from that mark. Six different players have caught a touchdown, with two tied atop their leaderboard at four, and two more tied at three apiece.
The Knights will have their hands full trying to stop the air raid, but if the past is any indication, the Fighting Lancers could have trouble reaching the end zone.
Trinity and Western Christian kick off at 5 p.m. on Friday at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium.
SCCS takes on Frazier Mountain
Santa Clarita Christian Football (5-3, 2-2) wrapped up league play with a big 54-26 win over Milken Community.
Cardinals’ receiver Eli Duhm was responsible for 30 points as the sophomore had three touchdown receptions, a kickoff return for a TD and hit six PATs. Quarterback Cayden Rappleye nearly ran for over 100 yards on the ground and found the end zone four times.
SCCS is likely a lock for the postseason but will look to keep sharpening the tools in a regular season non-league finale with Frazier Mountain (4-5). The Falcons are a freelance team with no division so they’ll be looking for a win to secure a decent shot at that postseason.
The Cards have tackled well, played great defense and found ways to score everywhere. They’ll have one last regular season game to lock down some things before the playoffs.
SCCS hosts the Falcons Saturday at Canyon at 6:30 p.m.