St. Francis football gets revenge, wallops West Ranch 

West Ranch running back Luke DePerno breaks free for a run against St. Francis. Photo by Justin Vigil-Zuniga / The Signal
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

St. Francis Golden Knight football doesn’t have a ton of returners from last year’s varsity squad but the 2023 team enacted payback on Friday night with a beatdown of the West Ranch Wildcats.  

The Golden Knights hammered West Ranch, 58-13, behind a huge four-touchdown second quarter Friday night at St. Francis High School.  

St. Francis quarterback John Sanders kept several plays alive with his legs and was able to make big plays down the field in the lopsided quarter.  

The Knights shined on all three phases. Senior John Calmette ran back a 96-yard kickoff return to tie the game and also added a 2-yard score to end the first half up, 34-13.  

On defense, Isaac Fajardo picked off each of West Ranch’s rotating quarterbacks, Zach Wyre and Liam McDaniel. The Knights’ defense finished with four interceptions and a sack. 

Sanders did the rest, adding a 44-yard rushing score, and found Preston Jernegan for a 12-yard strike in the critical second quarter.  

Jernegan and Sanders each outscored West Ranch. Sanders finished with six total TDs in his first varsity start.  

“He played great,” said Knights coach Dean Herrington. “He’s a special player and a kid that loves the game of football. He’s gonna get nothing but better.” 

St. Francis quarterback John Sanders escapes pressure and gets the ball out with Wildcats senior Aidan Lombardo blitzing. Photo by Justin Vigil-Zuniga / The Signal

Herrington, brother to Hart coaches Mike and Rick, knows all about beating West Ranch from his Foothill League days.  

West Ranch head coach Chris Varner lost over 30 seniors to graduation last year and has a nearly brand-new bunch rostered on varsity.  

“We had a good first quarter and then kind of the inexperience came in,” Varner said. “You can’t expect to to win when you have those kind of self-implosion moments. But my kids battled the whole game and it wasn’t like they just quit. We just made mistakes.” 

Varner knew his quarterbacks would be in a carousel but will reaccess the position heading into next week.

The Wildcats moved the ball well but the interceptions cost the team points. Junior running back Luke DePerno opened up the Wildcats’ season with a 44-yard score on their opening drive. DePerno posted the Cats’ only scores on Friday, adding two scores with over 100 yards on the ground.  

Even down 41-13, Varner knew he couldn’t go away from the run and DePerno proved him right. The junior running back had several big picksups in the third quarter.  

West Ranch was able to keep Sanders under duress with on and off pressure, but the quarterbacks’ speed was often too much for the Wildcats.  

The Knights only amped it up in the third quarter as they scored on their first drive and on the first play of their second drive, off of a 69-yard touchdown strike from Sanders to Jamie Lawyer. 

St. Francis got its revenge after West Ranch won the 2022 matchup, 61-41. Only a few players returned to the field on Friday from that game but the Knights have been waiting nearly a year for this one.  

“We were embarrassed last year,” Herrington said. “We didn’t play well and they took advantage of every mistake we made. We started off slow today but once we got going, we’re a pretty good team.” 

St. Francis remains home for a non-league matchup with Millikan on Friday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m.  

West Ranch will look to retool next Friday when the team returns to its home field for the first-ever football game on campus. Bleachers are being added to accommodate up to 1,400 spectators. The Wildcats will host Pasadena at 5 p.m. at West Ranch High School. 

“These are the kinds of things you go through when you’ve got some young kids and this was a tough test right out of the gates,” Varner said. “But we’re gonna learn a lot from it and just get better.” 

“I really like these kids and I believe in these kids,” Varner said.  “Obviously a tough test but I know we’ll get better.” 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS