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Prep sports: Locals make impact at privates

Six SCV residents are on Sierra Canyon; baseball player commits to Duke

Posted: December 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Despite the six Foothill League teams having been eliminated from the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division football playoffs, a group of five kids with Santa Clarita ties will be taking part in a CIF state bowl game.

Sierra Canyon, a private school in Granada Hills, features five kids from the SCV, who helped the Trailblazers to a perfect 14-0 record and a CIF-Southern Section East Valley Division championship with a 47-14 victory over Paraclete High.

But the accolades didn’t end there.

On Sunday afternoon, Sierra Canyon learned that it had been selected to the CIF Division IV Football Championship Bowl Game. It will play Le Grand of Le Grand at the Home Depot Center in Carson at 4 p.m. today.

“We were pretty excited (to hear the news),” said junior Jesse Janes, who lives in Canyon Country and transferred from Canyon after his freshman year. “It felt good because we worked so hard to get there and it wasn’t really a shock. It was because of all of our hard work.”

Other players from the area include freshman wide receiver Brandyn Lee, freshman lineman Eric Cohen, junior running back Xavier Menifield, senior Patrick McGown and junior lineman Remy Linares.

Menifield echoed Janes’ sentiment.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing experience playing at the Home Depot Center. None of us have ever done anything like this,” he said.

But they’ll need to continue that hard work Friday, as their opponent, Le Grand, brings a 21-game winning streak into the matchup. That’s tied for the longest winning streak in the state with Washington Union of Fresno, which will appear in the Division III bowl game.

Menifield, who transferred to Sierra Canyon from Valencia High, led the Trailblazers with 1,392 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns this season.

And Menifield saved his best for last, scoring five touchdowns and rushing for 161 yards in the East Valley Division championship game Dec. 10 at Antelope Valley College.

Janes, meanwhile, recorded 97 tackles to place fourth on a team that allowed an average of 10.5 points this season and allowed a touchdown or less in seven of 14 games.

McGown has 104 tackles, three forced fumbles and a staggering 17 sacks on the season.

But despite the football success the group is having at the private school, the main reason they leave the Santa Clarita Valley each morning is academics.

“It was more Sierra Canyon has a very good education program,” Janes said. “And I don’t know if at Canyon I’d really go anywhere after high school. I saw Sierra Canyon as a way to make a name for myself and go on to college.”

Local baseball player makes commitment to Duke

From his early days of playing baseball in the Hart youth league to playing travel ball on the Santa Clarita Dirt Dawgs, Stevenson Ranch resident Kevin Lewallyn has always been a top baseball talent.

Now, he’s ready to take that talent to Duke.

As a sophomore last season on the Chaminade High of West Hills varsity baseball team, the left-handed Lewallyn pitched 10 1/3 innings and carried a 0.00 ERA and held opponents to a .188 batting average.

Lewallyn, who is expected to be the ace of the Chaminade staff this season, narrowed his top two choices to Stanford and Duke before becoming the school’s first 2013 pitching commit on Dec. 5.

In the classroom Lewallyn has a 4.2 GPA which helped him catch the eye of prestigious collegiate programs.

“Education has been ingrained in me since I was little,” he said. “I made a goal that first and foremost I wanted to go to a great athletic school, and Stanford and Duke were two schools I knew had a great athletic program, and those are the two I had my eyes on.”

Lewallyn first came in contact with Duke in June when he was pitching in the Headfirst Honor Roll camp in Northern California.

“I was pitching and their recruiting coordinator was there and we had a good conversation,” he said.

Lewallyn met a Blue Devils pitching coach while throwing at the Stanford prospect camp and was invited out to North Carolina to pitch at Duke’s camp on Nov. 6.

A week later, Lewallyn had an offer from a school that met both his academic and athletic standards.

“We sat down as a family, my mom and my dad and me,” he said. “They have a big impact. I made the decision but they had a big impact. What they thought mattered a lot to me and I knew going to school on the East Coast would affect how much I saw them and the travel cost going back and forth. I wasn’t going to make the decision without their approval and full support.”

With his family on board, Lewallyn gave a verbal commitment to play baseball at Duke.

“I’m really happy with this decision,” he said.


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