By Matt Lechuga
For The Signal
It’s been a year of firsts for the Castaic Coyotes as they look to make their case for a playoff berth, beating a scrapping Saugus team 42-28 on Friday night at Valencia High.
“As a staff, for us everything is a mystery,” said Castaic head coach Sirr Guy Shakir. “How do we respond to this, how do we respond to that? When we go up early, how do we keep them from getting complacent? It’s a constant juggling act of trying to give them positive affirmation but also holding them accountable.”
The points came fast to start the game with the teams trading touchdowns on three straight possessions.
It all started after a three-and-out to start the game as the Coyotes’ Lucas Milan picked off Saugus quarterback Jake Nuttall. Two plays later it was Castaic quarterback Tyler Lewis hitting Gage Gibson on a wide receiver screen to the left that Gibson took 62 yards for the score.
Saugus tied the game at 7-7 on their next offensive play when Lucas Francke took the handoff right up the middle for a 63-yard score only for Castaic to regain the lead two plays later when running back Paul Lotz took his leg of the track meet 50 yards for a touchdown.
“[Saugus] came out with a ton of energy,” said Shakir. “They were fired up and rightfully so. I think they’re a pretty good team, they’re obviously well coached, they’ve had sustained success for an extended period of time. So whenever you have that track record, you can’t overlook anybody like that.”
The Coyotes broke the trend on the next series, forcing a fumble by Francke that was scooped up by Castaic’s Brandon Marshall and returned for a score, pushing their lead to 21-7.
Things slowed from there, each team slowing the pace. Two field goals, 29 and 31 yards, by Saugus brought the score to 21-13 at the half.
The Coyotes extended their lead to 28-13 on their first possession of the third quarter when Lewis hit Gibson for a 17-yard score. But again, Saugus closed the gap thanks to an eight-yard rush from Kayden Ky-Yeith and a 2-point conversion from RJ Temple that made it 28-21.
Castaic scored on its next two possessions, a 14-yard run from Jacob Pimentel and a 15-yard pass from Lewis to Gibson, their third scoring connection of the game.
Their third was probably their most impressive as Lewis had to corral a bad snap, rolled to his right and found an open Gibson in the end zone.
“This week we were really emphasizing our scramble drills and we knew that if something went wrong in the backfield that we had to get open for our QB because there’s no one else out there that can help him,” said Gibson, who finished the game with three catches for three touchdowns and 94 yards. “Coming from last year, last year was a lot of disappointment for us. But we have a lot of the same guys from that team and now that we’ve won, we’ve gotten a taste for it and we’re just driving on that.”
Saugus’ final score came on a 7-yard pass from Nuttall to Francke to make the final score 42-28. Francke led the offense on the ground, rushing 20 times for 176 yards and a score.
Next week Castaic will take on West Ranch and Saugus will face Canyon.