By Tyler Wainfeld and Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Staff Writers
Playoffs are on the line in week nine of football in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The undefeated Valencia Vikings enter their bye week while West Ranch can earn its fifth straight playoff berth with a win.
Hart and Castaic will both be in good shape to clinch a trip to the postseason with wins but victories in week 10 will do it for both.
Here’s everything you need to know for week nine:
Canyon and Hart renew rivalry
Canyon (5-2, 1-2) is ramping up for one of the oldest rivalries in Southern California sports. The Indians (5-2, 2-1) have dominated the SCV classic for the last 10 years but the Cowboys enter the matchup looking their best in years.
Canyon’s dominant backfield and solid play from junior quarterback Sebastian Martinez led to a 24-21 over Golden Valley last week, the Cowboys’ first win over the Grizzlies since 2014. The Cowboys are looking to end yet another long curse and take down the Indians for the first time in 10 years.
The Cowboys also shined on special teams, where two-way standout Jeremiah Taylor showed he can play all three phases of the game by running back a 99-yard kickoff return for six.
Hart is hot off a 44-14 win over Saugus, in which quarterback Tim Larkins lit up the Centurions with 325 passing yards and five total TDs. Indians’ receiver Shawn Irwin did the majority of the damage with seven catches for 171 yards and two touchdown receptions.
The Indians host the Cowboys at College of the Canyons on Friday at 7 p.m.
Signal Staff Picks:
Justin’s pick: Hart wins defensive battle. Indians 17-14.
Tyler’s pick: Hart remains in the title hunt. 42-21 Hart.
West Ranch takes on Golden Valley
The West Ranch Wildcats (5-3, 3-1) lost their first Foothill League game in nearly two years when Valencia dismantled them last week.
The Wildcats have an excellent opportunity to get back into their winning ways, and back in the league title hunt, when they take on the Golden Valley Grizzlies (2-6, 0-4) on Friday.
Currently second in the league standings behind Valencia, which has a bye this week, the Wildcats need only to win this week to book an automatic spot in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. That seems to be the likeliest outcome as the Grizzlies are in the midst of a five-game losing streak while the Wildcats have won their three previous games before last week’s setback.
Both teams should be keeping the ball on the ground for the most part. West Ranch junior Luke DePerno leads the Wildcats with 868 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Opposite him will be Golden Valley senior Isaiah Orozco, who has already racked up 1,042 rushing yards on the year to go along with 12 scores.
The two teams have been nearly polar opposites in league play. The Wildcats are averaging 28.5 points in their four league games compared to just 14.5 for Golden Valley. The Wildcats haven’t done quite as well as head coach Chris Varner would probably like on defense, giving up just over 20 points per game, though the Grizzlies are giving up nearly two touchdowns more per game.
Golden Valley and West Ranch are set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Canyon High School.
Tyler’s Pick: West Ranch dominates all over. 35-14 West Ranch.
Justin’s pick: Wildcat offense returns to form after slow week. 42-28 West Ranch
Castaic hosts Saugus
The surprise of the season has been the Castaic Coyotes football program as a whole.
Fans were recently celebrating the program’s first league win in its short history but may soon be seeing Castaic in the postseason. A win over the Centurions (0-7, 0-3) would put the Coyotes (5-2, 2-1) in a terrific spot to make the playoffs.
Castaic has thrived in all three phases, with strong play on offense from quarterback Tyler Lewis, running back Paul Lotz and receiver Lucas Milan. Milan, Lotz, Cyrus Gradoville and Dominic Espinoza have been dynamic on defense.
Saugus is still looking for its first win in a season that’s been full of adversity. The Centurions lost last week but had some positives. Running back Kayden Ky-Yeith delivered the team’s first 100-yard rushing game of the season after finishing Friday’s loss to Hart with 142 yards and one score. Sophomore quarterback Jake Nuttall has taken strides in the past two games, as he’s delivered his most accurate performances and highest yardage totals in a two-game stretch.
The Cents’ run defense also improved as they held three Indians under an average of 2 yards per carry.
This game will also be meaningful for the coaching staff, as a good portion of Coyotes head coach Sirr Guy Shakir’s staff were former coaches at Saugus.
Castaic takes on Saugus on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Valencia High School.
Justin’s pick: Castaic continues to impress. Coyotes 35-21.
Tyler’s pick: Castaic keeps its playoff hopes alive. 28-17 Castaic.
SCCS hosts Faith Baptist in final home game
Santa Clarita Christian (4-2, 1-0) is looking to rebound and regroup after losing to the Flintridge Prep Wolves. The Cardinals’ main focus is getting healthier and will hope to be at their best by Saturday’s Heritage League battle with the Faith Baptist Contenders.
SCCS coach Austin Fry will be looking for his first win as a coach against Faith Baptist, his alma mater. The two teams last met two years ago in Fry’s first season with the Cardinals’ program.
Last week, Cards’ top receiver Eli Duhm was a late scratch, leading to some changes heading into the Flintridge game. All signs show the two-way star Duhm is good to go for Saturday. Cardinals quarterback Cayden Rappleye has found some strong wideouts in Wyatt Waldron and Wyatt Shields, giving the gunslinger plenty of options.
Senior Noah Butler picked up his fourth sack of the season in the loss and now will have a much smaller Faith Baptist line to work against.
The Cardinals host the Contenders on Saturday at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons.
Trinity heads to Linfield Christian
The Knights (2-5, 0-2) are trying to catch a break in their five-game skid and won’t have any easier of a time with the Linfield Christian Lions.
Trinity improved on offense in last week’s loss to Riverside Prep, where the Knights put up 24 points, their highest-scoring outing since week two.
Trinity gave up nearly 400 yards on the ground to Riverside running back Marrion Brown and will now have to deal with Linfield’s sophomore workhorse backs, Micah Little and John Reynoso. Little has 593 yards on the season While Reynoso added his first 100-yard performance of the season in a win over Arrowhead Christian.
The Knights will look to keep feeding junior John Carlson in the passing and running game while still playing tough defense.
Trinity heads to Temecula to take on Linfield Christian on Saturday at 7 p.m.