Football second-round playoff preview 

Golden Valley quarterback Christopher Melkonian (3) stiff arms Saugus defender Dario Sandoval (82) at Canyon High School on Friday, 102822. Dan Watson/The Signal

 Three local teams remain in the CIF playoffs and will head into their division’s quarterfinals on Friday. 

Only West Ranch will be home on Friday night while Golden Valley and Santa Clarita Christian ship off for long drives. 

West Ranch hosts Upland in D3 

The Wildcats (11-0) are hot off the program’s first playoff win in three seasons after beating St. Pius (9-2). 

West Ranch will remain home for the CIF Division 3 quarterfinals, where the team will host the Upland Scots (7-4). 

The Scots are a run-heavy force from the Baseline League, where they finished second to Rancho Cucamonga. Upland is led by running back Rickey Allen, a thousand-yard back with eight touchdowns on the season. The Cats’ run defense will have its hands full with Allen, who averages 98.9 yards on the ground per game. 

Allen is sitting on an offer to play PAC-12 football for Colorado, so win or lose, quarterback Ryan Staub will have some words with the Upland back. 

West Ranch Wildcats quarterback Ryan Staub (6) runs the ball in for a touchdown in the second quarter of a CIF Southern Section playoff game between West Ranch High School and St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy at Valencia High School on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

West Ranch won’t take the Scots’ passing game for granted. Upland quarterback Noah Sandoval can run and throw with big targets like wideout Ian Sanchez down field. 

Middle linebacker Vincent Macaluso has been all over the field for the Scots. The senior has racked up 110 tackles, with nine for a loss this season.  

The Upland pass rush will also be a tall task for the Wildcats’ offensive line. Ethan Sevilla, Brendan Ash and AJ Matelau have combined for 20 sacks this season. Staub has proven himself to be a standout scrambler with great pocket presence this season and will look to avoid the Scots’ big three. 

West Ranch will as always look to be as balanced as possible. When the team gets running back Ty DePerno going alongside the passing attack, they are yet to be stopped. 

The Wildcats take on the Scots Friday at 7 p.m. at Valencia High School. 

Golden Valley heads out to Paloma Valley 

The Grizzlies (7-4) had a strong showing in their Division 7 opener win over Summit (5-6). Golden Valley will now have a second-round matchup with the Paloma Valley Wildcats (9-2). 

Paloma has quite the balanced attack, starting with running back Stephen Gallegos. The 6-foot, 2-inch, 220-pound running back is a tank running the ball. Gallegos has totaled up 1,320 rushing yards with 15 TDs this season. The senior ran for 170 yards with three scores in the Wildcats’ CIF opener win over Palm Springs. 

Junior Brady Nelson is the signal caller for Paloma. Nelson can run and throw, with 2,389 passing yards and 23 TDs this season. 

Grizzlies quarterback Chris Melkonian will have a ton of playmakers to prepare against. Wildcat defensive tackle Tristan Keplinger has set up shop in opposing backfields, with 25.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks this season. Paloma safety Gavin Ratnayakage has been a ball hawk with seven interceptions and 48 tackles this season. 

Melkonian’s legs have kept Golden Valley in games all season. The senior has emerged as a strong dual-threat quarterback in his first year at the helm for varsity. 

Quick plays to wide receivers Ajani Smith and William Hake may be the key to getting the ball out quick and moving down the field against Paloma. The Grizzlies have utilized a variety of different looks and formations this season. They’ll look to throw another team off with confusing packages at least one more time. 

The Grizzlies head down to Menifee to face Paloma Valley Friday at 7 p.m. 

SCCS gets rematch with Coast Union 

Santa Clarita Christian (6-3) was hoping to get a rematch with the Coast Union Broncos (8-2).  

Coast was able to grind out a 36-14 regular-season victory over the Cardinals, who were without head coach Austin Fry. 

Fry now has his team rolling on a three-game win streak and is looking forward to having a shot at the Broncos.  

Quarterback Cayden Rappleye has run the ball exceptionally in the past few games. The sophomore has rushed for two scores in four straight games. Rappleye is gearing up for his second shot at the Broncos and grateful he won’t have play-calling duties this time. 

Rappleye has standout wide receivers in Eli Duhm and Carter Aispuro. The two were given extra attention in the game against San Luis Obispo Classical last week, freeing up a huge 113-yard and three-TD day for wide receiver Wyatt Shields. 

Coast averages more than 43 points a game while just allowing about 24. 

The Cards feel good going into the Division 2 eight-man quarterfinals. The team has allowed just 16.6 points a game in their past three outings. The offense has become more balanced but it’ll be put to the test against the Broncos. 

SCCS heads up to Cambria for round two with Coast Union on Friday at 7 p.m. 

The Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals offense walks back to the sideline during a timeout during a non-league game between SCCS and Frazier Mountain at the Canyon High School football field on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. The Cardinals won 29-12. Chris Torres/The Signal

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