West Ranch finishes 10-0, earns outright Foothill League title for first time
After clinching a share of the Foothill League title last week, the West Ranch Wildcats (10-0, 6-0) made sure that no other team could call themselves champions, winning their final regular season game over the Castaic Coyotes (1-8, 0-5), 63-6, Friday night at Valencia High School.
The Wildcats celebrated by ringing The Signal Victory Bell.
“So good. So sweet. Amazing,” West Ranch senior Ryan Staub said of hearing the ringing of the bell.
Staub threw for 232 yards on 8-of-10 passing, tossing three touchdowns and an interception before being replaced midway through the second quarter with his team leading 35-0. He now has 32 touchdowns against just three interceptions on the season.
“We want to stay sharp heading to playoffs, stay focused,” Staub said. “And I think we clicked tonight and that’s definitely a good feeling heading into playoffs.”
Two of those touchdowns went to senior Maverick Diaz, who finished with five catches for 116 yards. That gives him 11 touchdowns on the season.
Diaz’s second touchdown in the second quarter was one for the highlight reel, as he caught a Staub pass right on the sideline before bursting past the Castaic defenders another 40 yards for the score.
“All I saw was a ball and a defender,” Diaz said. “I caught it, I took it to the house.”
West Ranch senior Tyler Scott had another impressive performance, rushing for 101 yards and two touchdowns, giving him six scores in just four games after sitting out the first half of the season due to him transferring from Alemany.
“I was just itching to get back on the field,” Scott said. “Transfer sit-out sucks, but I knew it was gonna be worth it in the end. At the end of the season, we rung the bell and we accomplished everything we did. I had some personal goals. I think I accomplished them. And honestly, I’m just so proud of this team.”
West Ranch also saw senior Ty DePerno score late in the first quarter on an 11-yard run, and senior Jonah Arrue scored on a 10-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
West Ranch head coach Chris Varner got to see his two quarterbacks of the future get some time with his team up big in the first half. Freshman Jackson Pressly, another transfer from Alemany, threw a touchdown on his first pass of the season, throwing a short pass to junior Jack Samuelson into double coverage in the second quarter. The receiver was able to snag the ball before running it the rest of the way for a 47-yard score.
Pressly completed both of his passes for 56 yards.
West Ranch junior Zach Wyre tossed one touchdown, throwing a 9-yard dart to senior Cody Marcus in the third quarter.
“I was happy for [Pressly],” Varner said. “Wyre looked good. He had to step in and do defense for us the last couple of weeks. He did a great job.”
Varner was pleased to see that no matter who he sent out to play, they got the job done.
“That’s what we’re looking at doing, running the system, getting the kids to trust the system,” Varner said. “And it’s just good to see them get some time.”
Castaic got its lone score on a 1-yard run from senior Christian Leon late in the third quarter. The Coyotes tried to score again with the clock winding down late in the fourth quarter, but they ran out of time with the running clock.
“Varner runs a very good program over there,” Castaic head coach Tony Uebelhardt said. “I got the utmost respect for what he does. You know, we ran into a very, very tough team. We’re a new school, brand new, first-year varsity program. I hate using that all the time, but we knew coming into this league this year that it was going to be a tough run.”
The Coyotes were without sophomore quarterback Dominic Espinoza after he suffered a concussion in last week’s game against Saugus. Junior Lucas Milan performed admirably in his absence, throwing for 149 yards on 11-of-22 passing with an interception. That went to West Ranch senior Tyler Jones, his third of the year.
“Lucas played quarterback for us his first year two years ago,” Uebelhardt said. “He played quarterback for us and then we moved him around. He’s more of an athlete than anything, but he played very well for us. I got no complaints with Lucas today.”
Castaic junior Paul Lotz led the Coyotes with five catches for 87 yards, while senior Davis Cruz had three catches for 47 yards.
Castaic will now prepare to host Hart next Thursday in a somewhat personal game for Uebelhardt, who was on the Hart coaching staff from 2013 to 2018. That game kicks off at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium.
West Ranch heads into a bye week in the last week of the regular season, giving Varner a couple of weeks to get his team ready for the playoffs.
“It’s good,” Varner said. “We could definitely use rest, recover, and get ready to keep going.”
It’s an incredible turnaround for the West Ranch program, as Varner took over a team that finished in last place in the league seven years ago.
“For us, seven years to go from last to first, that was the goal,” Varner said. “A lot of people said it wasn’t possible. I found a group of kids that believed in me. This is for all the players that have played for me, all the coaches that have coached for me, the amazing fans at West Ranch that believed in things. Just couldn’t be more proud.”
The Foothill League campaign may be over, but the Wildcats can now look forward to the CIF playoffs. They’re in a good position to be one of the top seeds in whatever division they are placed in, and Diaz couldn’t be more excited to help lead his team as far as it can go.
“We’re winning CIF. That’s all I gotta say,” Diaz said.