By Justin Vigil-Zuniga and Tyler Wainfeld
Signal Staff Writers
Nearly every local team brought home a win last weekend as non-league play winds down. But, five local teams remain undefeated while only one currently sits under .500.
Here’s everything you need to know for the upcoming week of football in the Santa Clarita Valley:
Valencia gets one more big road test at Rancho Cucamonga
The Vikings (3-0) will head to Rancho Cucamonga (3-0) this week for one of the most heavyweight matchups of the season.
The two undefeated teams will square off for the third straight season, with the Cougars having won each of the previous two matchups in one-score games.
Rancho boasts a handful of three-star college recruits, including receiver Jonah Dawson, who leads the team with 15 catches, 288 yards and two touchdowns. San Diego State University commit Rahim Wright leads the Cougars in tackles and has also added one interception as one of the team’s ball hawks.
Valencia will rely on its playmaking in all three phases again. The Viking offense got off to a slow start last week against Murrieta Mesa but sparked for 17 points in the second half. The Vikes defense has allowed just 20 points a game so far this season led by Reid Ferrell, Jake Pikor and Jordan Cardenas.
The Cougars host Valencia on Friday at 7 p.m.
Hart hosts Eisenhower
The Indians have gotten better and better in each week of their preseason. Now Hart will be tasked with taking on a fellow undefeated team, the Eisenhower Eagles (3-0).
Hart has gotten the better of three teams thanks to some solid running from Zack Rogozik and Chris Clauss and the dynamic passing attack of Tim Larkins and receiver Shawn Irwin. The two running backs have combined for 310 yards and four touchdowns, while Irwin has been close to un-guardable with 492 receiving yards and three scores in as many games.
Eisenhower features standouts at the same positions. Wide receiver Dashaun Benton has already racked up 337 receiving yards and six TDs from quarterback Daniel Ruiz. Eagles running backs Jacoby Pointer-Caldwell and Shaki James have also combined for just under 300 yards on the ground.
The defense that can muster up more stops against the opposing high-flying offense will see its team become 4-0 on Friday.
Hart hosts Eisenhower on Friday at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons.
Canyon heads to Royal
The Cowboys have been quite the surprise this season. Canyon is 3-0 for the first time in 11 years and has a great shot at heading into league play undefeated.
Canyon will hit the road on Friday for a road battle with the Royal Highlanders. The Highlanders have already played on Canyon’s field this year, losing their non-league matchup with Castaic, and will be looking for their first win of the season.
The Cowboys have an absolutely loaded backfield, who are collectively looking to run over any opponent in their path. Keston Banos leads the group with 339 yards, while Keyshawn Wooten has tallied 175 rushing yards.
Evan Watts, the team’s power back, has led the Cowboys from the backfield and on defense as the junior already has three sacks, a pair of blocked punts and two interceptions.
Canyon will be another tough test for a struggling Royal team. The Highlanders have explosive playmakers like running back Jonathan Sandwick and receiver Zach Nagy but are just yet to put it all together.
Royal hosts the Cowboys on Friday at 7 p.m.
Golden Valley closes out non-league with Garfield
Grizzly running back Isaiah Orozco’s numbers speak for themselves. The senior back, and his huge offensive line, have racked up 596 rushing yards and six touchdowns in just three games. Orozco is averaging 9.8 yards per carry and 198.7 yards per game.
Golden Valley (2-1) will take on the CIF City Division I runnerup Garfield Bulldogs (2-1) for the second straight year. The Grizzlies took round one last season on the road and will look to do the same in their 2023 preseason finale.
Garfield also boasts a strong running back in Damian Cornejo, who has rushed for 321 yards and 9 TDs this season.
The Bulldogs’ defense is on a roll and has only allowed six points in its last two games. Golden Valley is yet to be held to less than 32 points.
Both teams will be fighting to extend their win streaks to three straight games.
Golden Valley takes on Garfield on Friday at 7 p.m. at Canyon High.
West Ranch steamrolling into matchup with St. Paul
Although they have one loss under their belts, the West Ranch Wildcats have as much momentum as anyone heading into week four with back-to-back shutouts.
The Wildcats’ final non-league opponent will be the St. Paul Swordsmen (1-1), who West Ranch coincidentally shutout last season.
West Ranch has seemingly found its guy in junior quarterback Liam McDaniel, who has thrown for nearly 500 yards this season. Junior running back Luke DePerno has been the team’s catalyst, and is already up to 321 rushing yards and nine TDs this season.
The Wildcats host St. Paul in their homecoming game on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at COC.
Castaic picking up momentum
The Coyotes have found their rhythm in week three. The team has won two in a row, with just 25 points allowed in that span to go along with some highlight plays in all three phases along the way.
Castaic will take on the Eastside Lions, the one team the Coyotes bested last season. Castaic coach Sirr Guy Shakir knows the game won’t be an easy one and is preparing his team for another battle.
The Coyotes have sparked on offense thanks to stellar play from quarterback Tyler Lewis, running back Monty Coleman and wide receiver Lucas Milan.
Castaic will welcome its first graduating class back to the field on Thursday for the program’s homecoming.
The Coyotes and Lions square off on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Canyon High.
Saugus takes on Simi Valley
The Saugus Centurions (0-3) are in a freefall. They’ve yet to score more than one touchdown in any of their first three games, and things won’t get any easier this week.
Saugus heads to Simi Valley (2-1) to take on the Pioneers, a team that is averaging 42.7 points per game and is giving up just 11.7 points per game to opponents. The Pioneers are coming off a 62-7 win over Royal, which came just a week after a 55-0 win over Knight.
Simi Valley is led by senior quarterback Jesse Sereno, who has tossed 10 touchdowns against no interceptions while completing 43 of 69 passes for 640 yards. Sereno has three senior receivers to toss it to — Dominic Demaio, Conner Calabrese and Eddie Santiago — who have each racked up at least 100 receiving yards on the season. Calabrese also has four touchdown catches.
Saugus is in desperate need of a victory. The Centurions haven’t had a losing record in the regular season since 2014 when they went 3-7, and head coach Jason Bornn is sure to try everything possible to grind out a win.
Saugus and Simi Valley are set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Simi Valley High School.
Trinity faces road test at Arleta
The Trinity Classical Academy Knights (2-0) put together two solid wins to open the year before taking a bye week.
The Knights will look to improve to 3-0 for the second straight season when they travel to Arleta to face the Broncos (2-1). Both teams put up points — 31.5 per game for Trinity and 28.7 per game for Arleta — which should make for an exciting road game for the Knights.
Much of Trinity’s offense will run through junior quarterback Noah Visconti (503 yards, six touchdowns), who has a standout receiver in junior John Carlson (187 yards, three touchdowns). Carlson is also key on defense, racking up 23 tackles and a sack.
The Knights have recorded four interceptions as a team — each from a different player — and nine sacks.
Arleta opened the season with two wins but was humbled by Marquez last week. The Mustangs are heavily reliant on the run game, with senior Robert Tapia-Ponce racking up 203 yards and seven touchdowns. Fellow seniors Xavier Vega and Kennedy Duran have also eclipsed 100 yards on the ground for the year.
Trinity and Arleta are set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at Arleta High School.
SCCS heats up, heads west in week three
Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals football is off to its best start in six years. SCCS (2-0) has posted double-digit wins in each of its first two games with standout performances all over the field.
The team’s plethora of talented two-way players have sparked early as quarterback Cayden Rappleye and center Jude Patton also lead the defense in tackles, wide receiver Eli Duhm leads the team in interceptions, while running back Jonathan Boelter leads the Cards in sacks. The four have also done some special things on offense, too.
Boelter is hot off a 182-yard outing in the team’s home opener win over the United Christian Academy, while Rappleye and Duhm also combined for a pair of scores in the win.
The Cardinals will now head up to Santa Maria and face off with the Valley Christian Academy Lions (1-0). VCA is also undefeated with just one blowout win over Orcutt Academy to its credit.
The Lions host SCCS on Friday at 6 p.m.