By Justin Vigil-Zuniga and Tyler Wainfeld
Signal Staff Writers
Week 11 is finally here with playoffs just over the horizon.
Valencia and West Ranch have clinched, while Hart and Castaic can seal their fates with a win. Canyon, win or lose, also has a strong case for an at-large bid and will likely find its way back into the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Santa Clarita Christian is looking to clinch a league title, while Trinity is aiming to finish strong.
Here’s everything you need to know for the final week of regular-season play:
Golden Valley hosts Saugus
Neither the Grizzlies nor Centurions will be fighting for a playoff spot on Thursday. However, both teams, which feature dozens of non-seniors, will be gearing up for next season and playing for pride.
Saugus has improved immensely in the past few weeks, partially due to the team’s injury report being lightened. The Centurions have one last chance at a win this season and will look to take down the Golden Valley Grizzlies.
After a scary injury against West Ranch, Saugus freshman Jayden Lepley has returned with a bang. Lepley lit up the Canyon defense last week, reeling in nine catches for 151 yards. Senior CJ Mound also hauled in two touchdown catches from sophomore quarterback Jake Nuttall.
Saugus has scored more points in the past two weeks than the team had previously scored all season.
Golden Valley lost a heartbreaker to Canyon and played tough with West Ranch, but constant turnovers cost the Grizzlies a shot at a win. Grizzlies running back Isaiah Orozco has piled up 244 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his past two games and is looking for a monster stat line to end his high school career.
The Grizzlies shoot for their first win over the Centurions in four years on Thursday night at 7 p.m at Canyon High School.
Signal Staff Picks:
Justin’s pick: Centurions’ work through brutal season pays off literally in the end. 24-21 Saugus.
Tyler’s pick: Saugus puts it all together at the end. 28-21 Saugus.
Valencia aiming for outright league title
The Valencia Vikings (8-1, 5-0) have been absolutely dominant in Foothill League play thus far, clinching a share of the league title, their first since 2019, with last week’s win over Hart.
A win over the Canyon Cowboys (6-3, 2-3) on Friday in the regular-season finale would see the Vikings claim the league title outright. A loss would have West Ranch, on a bye this week, and Valencia share the league title.
The former scenario seems much more likely. Valencia is averaging 43 points in its five league games while giving up an average of 8.4 points per game. Canyon is only putting up 16 points per game in league while giving up 28 per game.
The Cowboys have already done what is necessary to be considered for an at-large spot in the CIF Southern Section playoffs as they are guaranteed to finish above .500. But a win or a competitive loss could improve their shot at a higher seed.
Canyon is getting healthier at an important time of the season, with Cowboys head coach Ken Holsenbeck indicating that running backs Keyshawn Wooten and Keston Banos should be back on Friday after missing last week’s win over Saugus due to injury.
Holsenbeck used receiver Jeremiah Taylor and backup quarterback Caleb Sparks in the backfield last week, with Taylor scoring twice as a runner.
Valencia and Canyon are set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Canyon High School.
Justin’s pick: Vikings clinch undefeated league season. 42-28 Valencia.
Tyler’s pick: Valencia finishes its dominant season. 42-21 Valencia.
Hart and Castaic battle for third place
Hart and Castaic can seal their playoff fates with a win on Friday. Both programs have identical records at 6-3, 3-2. A victory locks the winner into third place and into the postseason, while the loser may need to rely on a coin flip.
The Indians are coming off their lowest scoring output of the season after their loss to Valencia.
Castaic is also coming off a loss to West Ranch, in a game that got away from the Coyotes in the second half.
The Coyotes will look to clean up their defense after they gave up a plethora of yards on the ground. Hart running back Chris Clauss will look to continue that trend and finish his regular season with over 600 total yards. Castaic will also have to tame the crafty Shawn Irwin, who will be looking for a big game after his lowest reception and yardage output of the season.
Castaic quarterback Tyler Lewis has eclipsed 1,600 yards of total offense this season and enters week 11 feeling good after picking up his first Division 1 offer from Houston Christian University.
Hart hosts Castaic on Friday night at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons.
Justin’s pick: Hart finishes strong. 35-28 Indians.
Tyler’s pick: Hart rebounds from last week’s disappointment. 35-24 Hart.
SCCS enters league championship game
It’s a scenario that most football coaches can only dream of.
Santa Clarita Christian football head coach Austin Fry restarted the SCCS eight-man football program just a couple of years ago, and in year three, the Cardinals (6-2, 3-0) are in pole position to claim the Heritage League title.
Only the Lancaster Baptist Eagles (6-2, 2-1) stand in the way of the Cardinals finishing undefeated in league play and an outright league title on the road on Thursday.
Last year, the Cardinals took this matchup in their season opener, 37-24. It’s been much of the same this season, with SCCS averaging 34 points per game against 25.6 allowed per game.
Cardinals quarterback Cayden Rappleye had himself a game last week, accounting for seven total touchdowns as SCCS toppled Desert Christian, 54-14.
The Eagles average 41.3 points per game and give up 21.5 points per game, making this a true heavyweight title bout. Junior running back Samuel Flores has been their greatest threat, while the quarterback duties have been split between senior Wyatt Langley and sophomore Peyton Langley.
SCCS and Lancaster Baptist are set to kick off on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Trinity looks to snap losing skid against Western Christian
Trinity (2-7, 0-4) and the Western Christian Fighting Lancers (5-4, 1-3) both enter week 11 looking to end losing streaks.
The Knights have dropped their last seven games while the Lancers are hoping to end their three-game rut.
Western Christian quarterback Jared Doolittle has led a dynamic passing attack with 2,563 yards and 32 TDs through the air this season. Doolittle has trusted multiple guys as he has three receivers with more than 700 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Lancers don’t feature much of a ground attack, something the Knights have struggled against.
Knights quarterback Noah Visconti returned from injury last week, and threw for 185 yards and one touchdown with two picks. The quarterback will look to keep building for the future and throw a gem in what could be a Mesquite League shootout.
Trinity hosts Western Christian on Friday at 7 p.m. at Valencia High School.