Diego Olujich, Keston Banos seal victory with late-game heroics
Canyon senior Diego Olujich saw the play happening in front of him, and he knew what was about to happen.
“At that moment, I was just full-out going, ‘I’m stopping the game,’” Olujich.
Stop the game, he did.
With the Ridgeview Wolf Pack just a yard out from tying the game late in the fourth quarter, Olujich wrapped up Ridgeview junior Jayson Grant in the backfield to force a turnover on downs, keep the Cowboys on top and put Harry Welch Stadium into a frenzy.
“How about that? Fourth down and goal, and he comes through and, not only makes the stop, I mean, he lays a lick on there, right,” Canyon head coach Ken Holsenbeck said. “I mean, that was pretty impressive. And that just that literally sealed the game for us.”
If that wasn’t the play that sealed it, Canyon junior Keston Banos sure did just two plays later, running it to the end zone from 90 yards out to put the Cowboys on top for good, 28-14, to give Canyon a season-opening win on Friday at Harry Welch Stadium.
The Cowboys came into the season knowing they’d be relying heavily on their backfield with Holsenbeck’s Wing T system, and they didn’t disappoint. Canyon finished the game with 326 yards on the ground, 145 coming from Banos, who managed two scores on the day, the first coming early in the second quarter from 17 yards out.
“It’s all thanks to my line,” Banos said. “Without No. 60, Andrew Ruiz, without No. 64, Zach Demrest, and without Anthony Santos — and really anybody on that line — the run wouldn’t be possible.”
Canyon junior Evan Watts had a big game on both sides of the ball, racking up 91 yards on the ground with two scores, including the Cowboys’ first of the year on the first play of the second quarter. Watts was also immense picking up the Wolf Pack running backs, stopping multiple plays before they could play out.
The Wolf Pack mustered just 54 total offensive yards in the second half after picking up 194 in the first half. Most of that damage came when Ridgeview tied the game at 14-14 in the second quarter on an 85-yard bomb from quarterback Mason Mendoza to receiver Angel Corona.
Banos took full credit for missing his man on that play, and took it upon himself to make up for it in the second half.
“I somehow managed to get beat deep because I took a horrible angle,” Banos said. “So, I knew I had to come into the second half starting off right. I could not be the reason this team lost and I will never want to be the reason that this team loses. And if I have to give my everything, my whole, entire body and soul, then that’s what it’ll take and I’ll do it. I love my team.”
Ridgeview was playing for most of the third quarter without Mendoza at quarterback, which slowed down the Wolf Pack offense. The Cowboys had something to do with that as well, something Holsenbeck hopes is a sign of things to come.
“I’ll be honest, it’s what I expect to do,” Holsenbeck said. “I saw a lot of guys find the ball, making some big plays, and that’s part of Cowboy football. That’s what we want to see out there.”
One of those big plays was after the Cowboys’ first touchdown. Canyon kicker Giovani Urquieta booted the ball high in the air on the ensuing kickoff, and after touching ground, Canyon’s Ganisten Turner was first to react and keep the ball with the Cowboys.
Turner, another member of the backfield, picked up 91 yards on 18 carries.
Holsenbeck sees big things coming from his Wing T system, one that he implemented after getting the job prior to last season.
“There’s tons of successful systems out there,” Holsenbeck said. “We’re trying to do something that matches our personnel and something we feel good about. That system kind of matches what we have.”
Canyon senior quarterback Caleb Sparks had to leave the game at halftime due to a cut on his neck that required stitches, Holsenbeck said. Sparks was 3-of-4 passing for 26 yards prior to that. His status for next week’s game against Hueneme is unknown.
That game is set to kick off this coming Friday at 7 p.m. at Hueneme High School.
Ridgeview is set to host Liberty on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
And while the season is young, Watts expects performances like these throughout the year.
“Every single game, every single Friday night lights, come on,” Watts said. “We’re gonna bring it.”