SCV Prep Football Preview
October, 2011 - Issue #84
The day everything changed was October 29, 2004.

After more than a decade of squatting on the Foothill League football title, Hart lost to Valencia, signaling the end of the one-team show in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Valencia wound up winning the Foothill League title, thanks to a talented assemblage of players like state passing-yardage record holder and quarterback Michael Herrick and current New England Patriot Shane Vereen. And since Valencia won that title, we've had the following champions: 2005 - Canyon, 2006 - Canyon, 2007 - Hart, 2008 - Saugus, 2009 - Valencia and 2010 - Valencia.

Call it parity or whatever you want, but it's now anyone's ballgame in the Foothill League. And despite Valencia winning back-to-back titles, it appears as if the championship will change hands again in 2011. That's because of Canyon.
As we enter Foothill League play on October 14, the Cowboys are the favorite to remove the crown from Valencia because of two players - quarterback Jonathan Jerozal and wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky.

"Ridiculous," is how Canyon first-year head coach Rich Gutierrez describes the pair.

And it's justified.

Both players are in their third varsity seasons - the senior Jerozal a strong-armed, intelligent quarterback who threw for 3,048 yards last season, and the junior Wolitarsky, a tall and lean target who is on pace to become the most prolific wide receiver in Santa Clarita Valley history.

Offense shouldn't be the question with Canyon. It' who will step up on the defensive side of that ball.

Gutierrez understands the expectations.
"Pressure? Yeah, but there's always pressure here," Gutierrez says about Canyon football and expectations in 2011.

So that takes a lot of pressure off the defending champions at Valencia.
The Vikings graduated two of the greatest players in program history in running back Steven Manfro and quarterback Alex Bishop - and four key receivers. That has left a new crop of skill position players to answer the call. And that's the Vikings' biggest question - offense. Yet junior Tedrick Thompson is an electric receiver who could make a mark on Foothill this season.

But if the Vikings aren't going to score a lot of points, their defense won't give up that many. Leading that charge is last year's Foothill Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Gorman - a 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound, big-hitting linebacker. Valencia is stacked on defense, from the line to the linebackers to the secondary.

"I expect us to be competing for the Foothill League championship," says Valencia Head Coach Larry Muir. "I think the preseason schedule prepared us well for the Foothill League. The preseason schedule was as ambitious as anyone in the Santa Clarita Valley."
Muir says with all the parity in the league, it could come down to who has the best lines - offensive and defensive. On paper, that could be Valencia.

But West Ranch might have the best running back in the Foothill. Senior Jeff Coprich transferred from Golden Valley for his senior season. Though he has spent time splitting carries with Wildcat Quaid Willis, Coprich is the kind of player who is capable of running for 200 yards per game.

Outside of Coprich, West Ranch is deep, says Head Coach Sean O'Brien.
Though some of the players that make up that depth came into the season untested, like quarterback Gerrit Mouw.
Yet Mouw has the luxury of having one of the best lineman in big Nick Nowakowski, a three-year starter.

West Ranch, which finished third last year and is now in its fifth year in the Foothill League, has defeated every team but Valencia. That's a goal. But so is a league title.

"The simple goal is to improve our standing from last year," O'Brien says. "Do we think a Foothill League championship is in the cards? It's not out of reach. Last year we probably could have said we'd need a miracle to make it happen. [This year] it's in reach."

Saugus seemingly has an outside chance. The Centurions, who finished fourth last season, aren't big on star power, but get the most out of themselves year in and year out.
Saugus has veterans in scrambling senior quarterback Jared Carbajal and senior running back Tyler Watt, whose potential has been robbed by injuries the last two seasons.

In the defensive backfield, bulldog Scott Hamilton - a small player with a lot of tenacity - is leading the way.
"We hope to be in contention," says Saugus Head Coach Jason Bornn. "A couple of things have to happen. We have to protect the ball better. Last year it cost us games. Number two, we have to stay healthy. We have to find a way to get through injuries that have nagged us a lot in the past."

The Centurions are a wild card, but so is Hart.

It's almost weird to say that about the Indians after they missed the CIF-Southern Section postseason in 2010 for the first time since 1980.

With that chip on its shoulder, Hart comes into Foothill League play anxious to reprove itself.

The Indians have a lot of question marks, none of which are at running back as senior Dylan Edwards is a hard-nosed runner who puts up numbers.
On top of that, the Indians have some veterans on the offensive line and a burner at the wide receiver position in track-and-field star Tim White.

On the defensive side of the ball, Hart came into the season inexperienced and has had to grow quickly in the preleague part of the season.

The question for Golden Valley is, when will it win its first Foothill League game?
The Grizzlies enter their sixth year in the Foothill and now have their fourth different head coach in Robert Fisher.
Yet there are some superb talents on offense - namely running back Earl Johnson and receiver Isa Bey. And there's a veteran behind center in Reid Soliman and a hard hitter on defense in Brett Melton.

So the Grizzlies have the ability to compete. Just not for a league title - yet.

"We're trying to teach our kids reality," Fisher said. "The number-one goal is to win a Foothill League game. We talked about preparing for that one victory, not talking about championships. When you talk about the victories then other things come."
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