By Tyler Wainfeld and Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Staff Writers
Playoff tickets can officially be punched this week as we enter week eight of Santa Clarita Valley football.
West Ranch and Valencia will square off in a game that will likely decide a Foothill League champion, while either Canyon or Golden Valley will bounce back and emerge with its first win.
Santa Clarita Christian also returns to action after its bye and will look to build upon a strong start to the year.
Here’s everything you need to know heading into week eight:
The Showdown: Valencia takes on West Ranch
West Ranch and Valencia have had different teams the past three seasons but the matchups have been some of the best Foothill League games in the past few years.
The Wildcats have taken two straight over Valencia, their only two program wins over the Vikes, and are looking for the three-peat. Both wins were one-score games and Valencia may finally have the pieces and belief to take down their league rivals.
Both teams enter the showdown undefeated in league play and while both are more than likely to make the postseason, a victory gets the winner into the playoffs.
Cats running back Luke DePerno is hot off his second five-touchdown game of the season in the team’s comeback win over Hart. DePerno has accumulated 814 rushing yards and 16 TDs in six games this season.
Valencia is riding a three-game win streak through league play, during which the team has allowed just 21 points.
The Vikings have had stellar performances from quarterback Jackson Askins and sophomore running back Brian Bonner. Askins has passed for 1,163 yards and hasn’t played much in the second half since week four. Bonner has carried the weight of the run game and has totaled 361 yards on the ground on 7.1 yards per carry.
Valencia hosts West Ranch on Friday at 7 p.m. at Valencia High School.
Signal Staff Picks:
Justin’s pick: Valencia football is back. 22-20 Vikings.
Tyler’s pick: West Ranch reminds Valencia who the reigning league champs are. 35-28 West Ranch.
Hart looks to rebound against Saugus
The Hart Indians saw a setback in their hunt for the Foothill League title with last week’s loss to West Ranch.
Friday night at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium, the Indians (4-2, 1-1) have a chance to rectify that when they play the Saugus Centurions (0-6, 0-2).
Hart was dominant through the first half last week, going up 17-0 over West Ranch before the wheels fell off in the second half. Saugus is coming off a bye and is still looking to remove the goose egg from its win column.
Hart should put up points in this one, as the Indians are averaging 31 points per game overall. In league play, Hart has scored 67 points in two games while Saugus has allowed 76 points in two games.
Hart senior running back Chris Clauss has been playing at another level in league action, scoring five total touchdowns while recording 106 rushing yards and 78 receiving yards. He has emerged as an excellent complement to the senior duo of quarterback Timmy Larkins and receiver Shawn Irwin.
Saugus head coach Jason Bornn will be looking for someone from his squad to step up and have a big game as the Centurions hope to finish the season strong.
The Indians have not beaten Saugus since the 2019 season.
Hart and Saugus are set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at COC.
Justin’s pick: Hart gets back on track. Hart 35-21
Tyler’s pick: Hart stays in the title hunt. 35-14 Hart.
Canyon seeks to end long losing streak against Golden Valley
It’s been nine years since the last time the Canyon Cowboys beat the Golden Valley Grizzlies.
No time like the present, right?
The Cowboys (4-2, 0-2) have had a disappointing start to their league campaign after four wins out of the gate in nonleague. The Grizzlies (2-5, 0-3) have likewise gone winless in league action.
There should be plenty of running in this game as the Cowboys average 233.2 rushing yards per game, while the Grizzlies average 167.6 per game.
Canyon is led by junior running back Keston Banos’ 535 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He’s backed up by fellow tailbacks Keyshawn Wooten, Evan Watts and Ganisten Turner.
Golden Valley will likely be leaning on senior running back Isaiah Orozco, who has become a talisman of sorts for the Grizzlies with his 879 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He’s averaging a ridiculous 7 yards per carry.
Canyon is coming off a 35-7 setback to Castaic while Golden Valley has had to deal with both Hart and Valencia in back-to-back weeks.
Golden Valley and Canyon are set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Canyon High School.
Justin’s pick: Cowboys’ defensive efforts finally pay off with league win. 24-14 Canyon
Tyler’s pick: Canyon returns to form. 28-20 Canyon.
SCCS takes on unbeaten Flintridge Prep
The Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals (4-1, 1-0) will have their hands full this weekend against the Flintridge Prep Wolves.
Flintridge (4-0) enters the game undefeated on the coattails of running back Noah Willingham. The senior back has racked up 493 yards on the ground and 180 through the air in four games.
Wolves quarterback Alex Chorba has also started hot and led the offense with 568 passing yards and 12 TDs.
SCCS’ defense has been lights-out over the past couple of weeks and allowed just 25 points in that span. The offense has been just as hot, with quarterback Cayden Rappleye leading the way with over 1,000 total yards and 17 total TDs. Rappleye also leads the defense with 64 tackles.
Senior defensive tackle Noah Butler is coming off an astounding game with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Butler will look to continue to cause havoc and stuff Willingham in the backfield as much as possible.
Rappleye’s younger brother, Mason, will likely once again be asked to take on running back duties with the injuries to the Cards’ back field.
SCCS hosts Flintridge Prep on Saturday at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons.
Trinity heads to Riverside Prep
The Knights took a lump last week in their Mesquite League opener with Arrowhead Christian and will look to end the skid this week on the road against the Riverside Prep Silver Knights.
Trinity (2-4, 0-1) will likely be without quarterback Noah Visconti this week as he nurses an ankle injury. The fill-in duties will most likely fall to freshman Andrew Carlson, a young two-way player who coach Mike Parrinello thinks knows the offense well.
The Knights will need to stop the run for a shot at winning this game. Riverside (2-4, 0-1) is led by senior Marrion Brown with 538 rushing yards on 8.8 yards per carry. Brown also has two picks for the Silver Knights’ defense.
Trinity has struggled to find success in the run game over the past few weeks but it seems only a matter of time before John Carlson and/or Hudson Sweitzer break out. Carlson has led the team in rushing yards, receiving yards and tackles so far this season. Sweitzer, a sophomore, is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and will likely get a boost in his carries come Saturday.
The joust of Mesquite League Knights kicks off at Riverside Prep at 7 p.m.