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Prep football preview: No shortage of intrigue in final week

Hart and Canyon face off for at least second place in league while others pla

Posted: November 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Canyon’s Daniel Castro looks for running room during a game on Oct. 12 at College of the Canyons. Canyon’s Daniel Castro looks for running room during a game on Oct. 12 at College of the Canyons.
Canyon’s Daniel Castro looks for running room during a game on Oct. 12 at College of the Canyons.
Hart wide receiver Trent Irwin, right, hauls in a catch during an Oct. 26 game at Valencia High School. Hart wide receiver Trent Irwin, right, hauls in a catch during an Oct. 26 game at Valencia High School.
Hart wide receiver Trent Irwin, right, hauls in a catch during an Oct. 26 game at Valencia High School.

At the beginning of the season, this Hart-Canyon football matchup was penciled in as a possible game for the Foothill League title.

Erase that thought.

Now in permanent ink, this game is for no worse than second-place in the Foothill League.

How significant is that?


The winner of this game will likely play a first-round CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoff game at home.

The loser is likely on the road.

Hart (7-2 overall, 3-1 in the Foothill League) is coming off the heart-breaking 31-20 loss to Valencia last Friday.

For the Indians, the schedule was bottom heavy, as Canyon (6-2-1, 3-1) is the Foothill League’s highest scoring team.

The Cowboys have scored at least 41 points in every single game this season.

But last Friday’s 41-34 win over West Ranch marked the sixth time the Cowboys have surrendered at least 27 points in a game.

A strong performance against Hart’s high-powered offense will go a long way toward erasing the perceptions of the Canyon D.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Canyon head coach Rich
Gutierrez. “Obviously Hart’s been highly ranked throughout the year. They’re a fantastic school, always a great tradition.”

Hart struggled in a couple of areas last week, though.

Its offensive line gave up four second-half sacks and the offense scored just six points in the final two quarters.

“They’re probably more dangerous because of the fact that they’re probably going to work on the little things and find the things they felt weak at or areas they need to improve at,” Gutierrez said of the Indians.

For Canyon, two records are close to being broken as wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky is 10 receptions shy of Steve Smith’s career state record of 271 and Cade Apsay is tied with Nate Longshore’s single-season school touchdown pass record of 34, set in 2003.

The Canyon-Hart game has also been recognized as a Great American Rivalry Series contest with the winning team will receiving a championship trophy and one player being honored as the Most Valuable Player. A top senior athlete from each school will receive the Rivarly Scholar Student Athlete Scholarship Award.

Valencia at Golden Valley at Canyon High, 7 p.m.

There’s this thought that all Valencia (6-3, 4-0) has to do to beat winless Golden Valley (0-9, 0-4) is show up on Friday.

“No, no, no, no,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “We’re putting our best foot forward and (giving) the best effort when we come out. That’s a trap. That’s not where we want to be, and that’s not who we want to be known as. We want to put our best effort on Friday night and Golden Valley’s worthy of that.”

Quite simply, a Valencia win gives the Vikings an outright Foothill League title.

Last Friday’s win over Hart guaranteed them at least a share of the crown — their fourth consecutive.

Golden Valley had a disappointing game in a 48-6 loss to struggling Saugus last Friday.

The Grizzlies go into the game on a 16-game losing streak.

“Golden Valley’s got nothing to lose,” Muir said. “They have terrific athletes and have played a lot of games where they’ve been right there. It’s their ‘Senior Night.’ They have nothing to lose, so they’re going to let it rip.”

Saugus vs. West Ranch at Valencia High, 7 p.m.

An up-and-down season for both Saugus and West Ranch culminates tonight at Valencia High School in what is likely a de facto play-in game to the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.

With four at-large bids available and only the top three Foothill League finishers guaranteed playoff spots, the winner of Saugus/West Ranch will have to hope it has a resume deserving of the postseason.

Before either side can crunch the numbers, though, it will have to win this game.

“Our kids understand what’s at stake, and are enthusiastic to participate in our first playoff game — which is (tonight),” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “That’s our whole approach. We understand if we win, we have a good shot.”

The Centurions (3-6, 1-3) enter the game coming off a 48-6 rout of Golden Valley last week, ending a string of seven straight losses on the field — Saugus later earned a forfeit win over Taft after losing 48-20 on Sept. 21.

If the Centurions are going to win tonight, they’ll have to avoid letting the Wildcats (2-7, 1-3) play like they did last week against Canyon.

West Ranch fell to the Cowboys last week 41-34, scoring more than 13 points for the first time since a 38-30 loss to St. Francis on Sept. 21.

“They’re very, very fundamentally sound on all facets: offense, defense, special teams,” Bornn said. “They’re very well coached. They’re very well disciplined. You have to prepare for everything they do. (Quarterback Gerrit) Mouw throws the ball extremely well. He’s very effective.”

On Saturday

SCCS vs. Animo Leadership at Angelou High in Inglewood, 1 p.m.

All that stands between Santa Clarita Christian and an automatic spot in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division playoffs is Saturday’s tilt with Animo Leadership of Inglewood.

After last week’s 35-12 victory over Fairmont Prep kept the Cardinals’ playoff hopes alive, Saturday’s contest would send them through if they can defeat an Animo Leadership team sporting an 0-9 overall record, 0-4 in the San Joaquin League.

A win would guarantee SCCS (5-3, 2-2) no worse than third in the league, locking up an automatic playoff berth.

After dropping its first two games of the season, SCCS has won five of its last six games entering Saturday’s contest.

The Cardinals feature an offense averaging 26.7 points per game, and have been cleaning up on the ground with junior running back Derek Lewis’ 123.3 rushing yards per game.

Price vs. Trinity, at Valencia High, 7 p.m.

Despite competing in a league with nothing but CIF-Southern Section 8-man Division I teams, Division II Trinity Classical Academy defeated Lancaster Baptist 54-14 last week to take the Heritage League crown in its first season as a member of the league.

This week, the Knights’ reward is a first-round playoff match with Price of Los Angeles.

Price (3-5) finished fourth in the Coastal League and averages 27.7 points per game, while allowing an almost identical 27.5 points per game.

The two teams have two common opponents in Fulton and Liberty Christian. Trinity defeated Fulton 48-8 and Liberty Christian 68-6, while Price lost to both.

Trinity enters on a three-game winning streak and is averaging 46.3 points per game, while allowing 15.5 points per contest.

“We feel like the last six quarters of football are the best we’ve ever played,” said Trinity head coach Mike Buchanan, referring to the win over Lancaster Baptist and a come-from-behind win over Faith Baptist on Oct. 20. “And I was telling the boys after Faith Baptist, when we came back and beat them, I said, ‘You guys developed that confident character that’s the X-factor that helps championship teams win.’”

And a championship game is exactly what the Knights hope to be.

“We expect to go to the finals,” Buchanan said. “Our biggest hill will be against Joshua Springs if we’re blessed to get to them in the semifinals. But we would be really encouraged to go in there and give them our best. We’ve been talking about that team since we started our program, and to have an opportunity to play them would be one of the things the seniors have been focusing on for four years.”

First, though, they can’t get too far ahead of themselves with Saturday’s game against Price quickly approaching.

“I’ve been talking about that and really emphasizing that the game’s played 5 inches between your left ear and right ear,” Buchanan said. “‘Execute’ has been our word of the week.”


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