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Rams and Seahawks Battle for Supremacy in NFC West

| Sports | December 14, 2017

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will defend their lead in the NFC West against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s a scenario that would have been met with laughter just a few months ago before the season began.

Under new head coach Sean McVay, and with a revamped offensive line, however, the Rams have executed one of the quickest turnarounds in recent memory. Now the playoffs are tantalizingly close, but are, by no means, a sure thing. Carolina, Atlanta, and Seattle are all ready to pounce if Los Angeles at all falters, making their matchup with the Seahawks this week a must win.

As division rivals, this won’t be the first meeting between these two teams. If you are a fan of the Rams, it may not be wise to use history as any indication of how the second matchup will go. This is because Seattle slowed down Los Angeles’ high-powered offense, winning the first meeting 16-10.

Jared Goff is enjoying a stellar sophomore year, but was more of a hindrance in the week-five game against the Seahawks. Goff was picked off twice and lost a fumble, accounting for three of his team’s five turnovers. Giving the ball away that many times explains how Los Angeles, which scored the game’s first 10 points, allowed 16 unanswered.

The Rams’ defensive effort is a silver lining that can be taken from this game. Russell Wilson threw an interception of his own, and was sacked three times. The Seahawks have also struggled to run the ball all season, and this game was no different. The team totaled just 62 yards on 25 carries.

Clearly the game against Seattle was an outlier, and not indicative of the kind of season Los Angeles is having. McVay, the one-time offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, has turned the Rams’ league-worst scoring offense from a season ago into the second highest scoring offense in the NFL today. Their 30.5 points per game trails only the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles.

Of course, McVay’s mere presence isn’t the sole reason for Los Angeles’ offensive renaissance. Much of the credit has to go to the moves made in the offseason to shore up the offensive line. Last year, Goff and Case Keenum were sacked a combined 49 times, with Goff hitting the turf 26 times in seven games. Running back Todd Gurley also fell victim to the holes in the line, as constant backfield pressure kept him to 3.2 yards per carry and six rushing touchdowns for the whole season.

One big change starts at the heart of the line, with the addition of center John Sullivan, who was the backup snapper for the Redskins last season, so there is already a familiarity with him and McVay. So far, Sullivan has rewarded the trust of his head coach, having allowed just one sack all year, while committing just two penalties.

Los Angeles’ biggest acquisition this offseason, however, was left tackle Andrew Whitworth, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2016, Whitworth played all 16 games without allowing a single sack. This number has jumped a little with the Rams, as he has already allowed five with three games still to go. Goff has only been sacked 22 times in 13 games, meaning the pass rush brings him down less than two times per game.

With more time in the backfield, Goff has been able to show why the Rams moved up on draft day to take him first overall in 2016. He is tied for eighth in the NFL in touchdown passes with 22, matching Washington’s Kirk Cousins, another protege of McVay. Goff has also thrown six interceptions, which is the second least among quarterbacks who have started all season. Only Alex Smith of Kansas City has thrown less, with five.

Those who wrote off Gurley as a one-year wonder due to his sophomore slump last season have a lot of crow to eat. He currently leads all running backs with 10 rushing touchdowns, and is third in total yards with 1,035. The Rams are truly a testament to the immediate impact a good offensive line can make. They will need a big effort from their line when they host Seattle this Sunday.

The Seahawks aren’t always a threat to bring down the quarterback in the backfield, as they are tied for 13th in total sacks for the season, with 32. However, they do know how to slow down the run, which is something Los Angeles relies heavily on to open up passing lanes for Goff. Seattle allows an average of 3.9 yards per carry to opposing running backs, and is third in the league in forcing rushing fumbles, causing seven and recovering four.

This rematch has all the makings of another defensive struggle, as the Rams also excel in creating turnovers. Their defense is fifth in the NFL in interceptions, with 15, and no player has more than three. This balance means an opposing quarterback has to be wary of anywhere he throws the ball, as Los Angeles has players at each position who can snag an interception.

Wilson has 11 interceptions on the year, which isn’t a terribly high amount. However, he has been sacked 30 times this year, ninth most in the league, something Los Angeles’ defense can take advantage of. They have the third most sacks with 40, and should be applying constant pressure to Wilson all game. The more flustered he is, the higher chance of him throwing an interception. With Wilson, however, his ability to avoid being sacked to make a big play is something that needs to be taken into consideration.

The fact that the Rams are already major players in the playoff picture, a season removed from going 4-12 should be seen as a victory already. This team isn’t looking for consolation prizes, though, and won’t be happy if they see their spot in the postseason slip away.

Sunday’s rematch with the Seahawks in Los Angeles may be their biggest game of the year. With the struggling Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers as the last two games of the season, the Rams need to win this weekend for a strong start to that home stretch. Get ready for a gritty game of football that most likely won’t be decided until the final moments of the fourth quarter.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | December 14, 2017

Female – Maryrose Elias

College of the Canyons freshman guard Maryrose Elias helped the Cougars to a pair of convincing victories at the recent Contra Costa Classic tournament held Nov. 30-Dec. 2. In COC’s 111-87 win over Folsom Lake College, Elias led all scorers with 28 points to go, with eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. In Saturday’s 92-65 win over Laney College, Elias registered a double-double with 29 points and 10 rebounds, while also dishing out two assists, and collecting three steals.

 

Male – Tim Soares

Sophomore Tim Soares is a standout center for The Master’s University Men’s basketball team, crucial to the NAIA No. 5-ranked Mustangs’ 9-1 start. At 6-foot-10, he provides an intimidating post presence, and he’s been mostly unstoppable on offense. He is currently second in NAIA Division 1 in blocks (33) and fifth in field goal percentage (66%). Last Friday, he scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds and three blocks in a 126-70 win over Westcliff University from Irvine. He is averaging 15 points and eight rebounds per game this season.

 

 

 

 

 

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Female Athlete of the Week – Caroline Page

| Sports | December 7, 2017

College of the Canyons freshman outside hitter Caroline Page recorded double-digit kill totals in both games of the Cougars’ run at the 2017 CCCAA State Championship volleyball tournament held on Dec. 2 at Solano College in Fairfield, Calif. In COC’s quarterfinal match vs. Feather River College, Page contributed with 10 kills, an ace and eight digs. Later in the day, Page was at it again with 14 kills, an ace and 12 digs, as the Cougars were narrowly defeated 3-2 to eventual state champion Irvine Valley College. The Cougars finish the season with an overall record of 25-6, while equaling the program’s best finish with a win at the state championship tourney.

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Male Athlete of the Week – Connor Downs

| Sports | December 7, 2017

Valencia High School quarterback Connor Downs threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns against Oaks Christian in the CIF-Southern Section Division II finals last Friday. The Vikings ultimately lost the game 20-19, but thanks to Downs, who is graduating in the spring, the team finished the season with a 12-2 record.

“Connor is an outstanding young man, a great leader and a fierce competitor,” said Valencia High School football coach Larry Muir. “He’s a very talented QB, can throw an accurate deep ball and can run the ball as well. He was the Foothill Offensive Player of the Year, a terrific player and an excellent student.”

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Golden Valley’s Golden Success

| Sports | December 7, 2017

For anyone familiar with Santa Clarita football, it will come as no surprise to learn that Golden Valley just enjoyed the best season in school history. The Grizzlies used a strong playoff run to propel themselves into the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 Championship round. A season ago, the school fell one game short of this mark in Division 7, losing to eventual division champs San Gorgonio.

Golden Valley’s success in the playoffs wasn’t guaranteed. It was earned playing in the always brutal Foothill League, in which the Grizzlies finished with a 2-3 record. Overall, they went 5-5, a record that head coach Dan Kelley felt would get his team in to the playoffs. Getting to the postseason was only the first step in a long road towards Golden Valley’s ultimate goal of hoisting the championship trophy. The next step would take Golden Valley 150 miles up this ever-growing road.

Nipomo High School was the Grizzlies’ first opponent, meaning a trek to San Luis Obispo County to take on the Titans. Although it wasn’t a high-scoring affair, Golden Valley won handily, taking a 15-2 victory back to Santa Clarita. Coach Kelley believes that the strength of the Foothill League ensured the team was ready for all of the challenges the playoffs could throw their way.

“Playing in the Foothill League makes you mentally and physically strong,” Kelley said. “It makes you prepare week in and week out for big games. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”

With an already strong mental and physical foundation, plus the momentum gained from winning their first playoff game, Golden Valley trounced Fountain Valley 41-14 in the second round. The Grizzlies were able to make it past the first two rounds devoid of adversity, but the semifinals against Mira Costa would change all that.

Golden Valley jumped out to a first-half 20-10 lead, but wouldn’t score the rest of the way. Instead, they relied on their defense to shut the Mustangs out in the third quarter. Then came the final frame, where Mira Costa hung eight unanswered points on the Grizzlies, and suddenly, victory didn’t seem so assured.

Fortunately for Golden Valley, they have an incredible athlete in Jalin Lewis. With just 1:44 left in the game, Lewis intercepted Mustangs’ quarterback Nick Carpino, sealing the Grizzlies’ 20-18 win. This was Lewis’ second interception of the game, which he paired with a receiving touchdown in the first quarter.

The athleticism of both Lewis and USC-commit DeGabriel Floyd gave Kelley cornerstones on which to build his offense. They both tallied over 1,000 total yards for the season, and put up double digit touchdowns as well. Their impact wasn’t limited to just offense, as their skill sets helped to also bolster the team’s defense.
Bishop Diego set the stage for the championship round by defeating Saugus 45-27 in the semifinals. The Cardinals came in with a 12-1 record, and Kelley knew the Grizzlies would have to play a perfect game to potentially pull off the upset. Going into halftime down just 7-0 was a promising sign for Golden Valley, but the wheels would fall off soon after.

The Grizzlies gave the ball away five times, four of which came in the second half. Unsurprisingly, Bishop Diego capitalized to the tune of 30 points in the final two quarters. Golden Valley’s playoff run ended with a 37-6 loss, but Kelley left the game knowing what his team could improve upon in the hopes of winning the championship next season.

“You need to play perfect, mistake-free football to hoist that trophy,” Kelley said. “We made a lot of mistakes that cost us the game.”

No matter the outcome of the final game, it can’t take away from the fact that Golden Valley achieved great success this season. The school had never made it to a championship round before, but can now use that as a measuring stick for years to come. The strides the Grizzlies have made are not lost on Kelley, who believes Golden Valley has nowhere to go but up from this point on.

“It’s the best season in school history,” Kelley said. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”

Keeping Track of the Latest Los Angeles Clippers

| Sports | November 30, 2017

Monday marked the second meeting between Los Angeles’ two NBA teams, the Clippers and the Lakers. This seemed as good a time as any to evaluate how the Clippers have been looking in a season where they lost both Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. This week’s match against the Lakers provided a good example of the Clippers’ playing style this year.

Throughout the game, the Clippers kept it close, but found themselves trailing 89-87 entering the fourth quarter. The deficit they faced can be explained by a less than enthusiastic attitude on defense. Multiple times in the third frame, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram was able to sneak his way into the paint for an easy dunk. A lack of communication and movement on the Clippers’ part allowed these easy points to occur.

Defense has been a problem that has plagued the Clippers all year. Opponents are able to score with relative ease against them, as Los Angeles ranks 20th in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 109 points per 100 possessions per game. However, when the Clippers are motivated on the defensive end, good things happen. Which brings us back to the game.

Tied 89-89 a minute into the fourth, the Lakers embarked on a 12-4 thanks to the combined efforts of Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Kuzma. The Clippers responded immediately with the help of Lou Williams, who has been the biggest asset acquired in the trade that sent Paul to the Houston Rockets.

Williams piled on six points in a 17-4 run that gave the Clippers a 110-105 lead. “Sweet Lou,” as he is also known, scored 42 points in the game, two shy of his career high. The Clippers snapped a nine-game losing streak, and have won all three games since Williams was inserted into the starting lineup. This should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as their opponents have been the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, and the Lakers. Combined the three have 16 wins.

Okay, back to the game. With just under four minutes left, and the Clippers leading 112-110, Blake Griffin had to be helped to the locker room after injuring his knee. He finished the game with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Williams ensured the Clippers finished the game strong, scoring the team’s final eight points en route to a 120-115 victory over their hometown rivals.

Losing Griffin for any extended amount of time may be too much for the Clippers to overcome. He has been the team’s best offensive weapon, scoring 23 points per game on a true shooting percentage of 54 percent. He is also hauling in eight rebounds per game and dishing out five assists as well, acting as the offense’s engine.

It’s an offense that could use a little fine-tuning. Watching the match against the Lakers, it was obvious to the audience that the Clippers rely on isolation plays, hoping one of their scorers can will the ball into the basket. This results in others standing around and occasionally setting ball screens. Ball movement suffers in Los Angeles’ offensive style, and unsurprisingly, they rank 27th in the league in team assists, with just 20 a game.

A quick remedy would be to get Deandre Jordan involved more on offense, something that would require Jordan to diversify his offensive game as well. He is incredibly efficient at scoring, boasting the highest true shooting percentage among all starters, at 66 percent. However, he is just averaging 10 points per game, his lowest mark since the 2012-2013 season.

Defenses know that if they don’t allow Jordan a clean look at the hoop, he doesn’t have enough offensive tools to create a shot. He also has very little range, giving opposing centers the opportunity to hunker down in the paint and make driving to the basket that much harder for the Clippers.

Griffin’s knee injury is just one ailment in a long list for Los Angeles this season. It began with point guard Milos Teodosic, who was brought in to be the team’s main ball distributor. He injured his plantar fascia in his left foot on October 21 against the Suns, and has yet to play since.

Teodosic thrived in handing out dimes, accounting for 31 percent of all assists that occurred with him on the floor. In his short time in the NBA, he had already wowed viewers with a few nifty passes. He is expected to return this season, and will greatly improve the Clippers’ ball movement when he is back on the court.

The injury bug continued to bite, as newly acquired small forward Danilo Gallinari was lost to a left hip contusion against the Heat on November 5. Gallinari was expected to provide a big scoring boost to the starting five, and was doing well in his role. He averaged 13 points on a true shooting percentage of 48 percent in the nine games that he played. He, too, is expected to return to the lineup, although there is no exact date for when this will occur.

One of the biggest blows the Clippers suffered on the injury front was losing Patrick Beverley for the season with a knee injury. Beverley, who was brought in with Williams in the Houston trade, is known throughout the league as one of the best defenders at the guard position.

Although he was allowing 107 points per 100 possessions while on the court, Beverley’s presence meant that offenses facing him would have to account for the best wing scorer to be stifled throughout the game. The 12 points Beverley provided per game in his time with the team was an added bonus to his defensive prowess.

As should have been expected, the Clippers are looking a little lost as they try to adjust to life without Paul. Injuries have ravaged a roster that still provides plenty of potential, so it is hard to determine whether Los Angeles will continue to struggle. The team has obvious flaws, but those can easily be fixed with proper game-planning and on-court enthusiasm. The season is young, and it will be interesting to see how the Clippers evolve throughout.

Female Athlete of the Week – Emily Burns

| Sports | November 30, 2017

College of the Canyons sophomore Emily Burns recorded 15 kills and six digs in the No. 3 Cougars’ 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-23) sweep over No. 11 El Camino College in the second round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional Playoffs on Saturday night. Earlier in the week Burns tallied 24 kills and seven digs in COC’s first round playoff victory over Golden West College. With the pair of wins, Canyons advances to the CCCAA Women’s Volleyball State Championship tourney for just the third time in school history. The Cougars will next face Feather River at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, in opening round action at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.

 

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Male Athlete of the Week – Jalin Lewis

| Sports | November 30, 2017

In his last year at Golden Valley High School, Jalin Lewis will surely be missed next football season. Last week he caught two passes for 27 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 39 yards on six carries, and snagged two interceptions, including one to seal the Grizzlies’ 20-18 victory over Mira Costa in the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 semifinals. The win puts Golden Valley into the championship round, the first in school history, against Bishop Diego. The Cardinals ended Saugus’ playoff run last week with a 45-27 win over the Centurions. Golden Valley will host the championship match at Canyon High School on December 1 at 7 p.m.

“Jalin is one of the best players I have ever coached,” said Golden Valley football coach Daniel Kelley. “He is such a competitor, and he supports his teammates at all times. His natural ability to play the game of football is one of the main reasons we have had so much success this season.”

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Friday Night Lights – SCV Football Playoffs

| Sports | November 30, 2017

SCV Playoff Football Schedule

Golden Valley Grizzlies v. Bishop Diego Cardinals: Friday, 12/1 at 7 p.m. @ Canyon High School

Valencia Vikings v. Oaks Christian Lions: Friday, 12/1 at 7:30 p.m. @ Valencia High School

Kylia Bradford – Female Athlete of the Week

| Sports | November 17, 2017

College of the Canyons soccer standout Kylia Bradford netted three goals in two games to help the seven-time defending conference champion Cougars (17-2, 8-0) push their win streak to 11 games to close out the regular season. The freshman forward scored a goal in COC’s 4-0 home win over Victory Valley on Nov. 7, then came back with a pair of scores in the Cougars’ 4-1 win over Citrus on Nov. 9. Bradford and the Western State Conference, East Division Champion Cougars will next take the pitch in the opening round of the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at COC.

 

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Friday and Saturday Night Lights – SCV Playoff Football Schedule

| Sports | November 16, 2017

Canyon Cowboys v. Mira Costa Mustangs: Saturday, 11/11 at 7 p.m. @ Canyon High School
Golden Valley Grizzlies v. Fountain Valley Barons: Friday, 11/17 at 7:30 p.m. @ Canyon High School
Hart Indians v. Rancho Verde Mustangs: Friday, 11/17 at 7 p.m. @ College of the Canyons.
Saugus Centurions v. St. Paul Swordsmen : Friday, 11/17 at 7:30 p.m. @ St. Paul High School
Valencia Vikings v. Norco Cougars: Friday, 11/17 at 7:30 p.m. @ Norco High School
Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals v. Santa Clara Saints: Friday, 11/17 at 7 p.m. @ Valencia High School

Blake Kirshner – Male Athlete of the Week

| Sports | November 16, 2017

A junior at Santa Clarita Christian School, Blake Kirshner is excelling on the football field as quarterback for the Cardinals. Last week he went 24-32 for 388 yards and seven touchdowns, as the Cardinals defeated the Hamilton Bobcats 48-17. SCCS has yet to lose a game this season, and will be taking their 11-0 record into the second round of the CIF-SS Division 13 playoffs against the Santa Clara Saints on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

“Blake is a young man (who) has been in the program for some time and has had the advantage of seeing it done,” said SCCS football coach Chazz Anderson. “He has worked extremely hard to ensure he is doing his part as the quarterback of a complex concept-oriented offense. While he is still maturing as a player he has an incredible up side, and strives to be the best he can be to the glory of God and the good of his team. Excited to see what the Lord is going to do the rest of this year and next.”

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Canyon Cowboys Continue to Grind Their Way to Successful Season

| Sports | November 16, 2017

“Pure excitement!”

This is how Canyon Cowboys head coach Rich Gutierrez described learning that his team would be making the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, they get to continue feeling this jovial emotion after defeating San Gorgonio High School 36-28 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs. The victory marks the first time Canyon has reached the second round of the postseason since 2012.

“It’s amazing for the boys,” Gutierrez said in reference to the win over San Gorgonio. “Ultimately, you can never take anything for granted. You must always continue to work and drive towards your essential goals.”

This fighting spirit was with the Cowboys when the Spartans took a 14-13 lead in the second quarter. Canyon took the ensuing possession to the end zone on a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Taylor Tepesano to take a 19-14 lead, and never trail the game again. The go-ahead score was Tepesano’s second rushing touchdown of the game.

Although the Cowboys led throughout the entirety of the second half, San Gorgonio kept it close, as a 4-yard touchdown rush from Kenzel Lawler made the score 29-28 entering the fourth quarter. Despite the down-to-the-wire scenario that Gutierrez’s team faced, he said they needed no additional motivation for a strong finish.

“My boys are fighters and they continued to grind,” Gutierrez said. “Their strength in adversity is amazing.”

The reward for Canyon’s hard fought victory is hosting Mira Costa High School on Saturday, November 18 at 7 p.m. Although the Mustangs have a 5-6 overall record, they went 3-2 in league play and sweated out a 13-12 victory over Crescenta Valley in the first round to set up their showdown with the Cowboys. Gutierrez praised his upcoming competition and affirmed his team will play their style of football.

“They are athletic, strong, and extremely well coached,” Gutierrez said. “We plan on playing to our strengths, play disciplined football, and compete to the best of our abilities.”

Although it is often unwise to look past the game at hand, if everything works out just so, Canyon can potentially face Golden Valley in the quarterfinals of their bracket. When last the two teams met, the Grizzlies used a combination of USC-commit DeGabriel Floyd (one passing and one rushing touchdown), running back Dj Turner (155 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown), and wide receiver Jalin Lewis (83 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown), to shutout the Cowboys 38-0.

Despite the excitement this postseason matchup would create, Gutierrez isn’t looking that far into the future.

“No, I am not focused on who we could potentially play next,” Gutierrez said. “Our sole focus is Saturday night.”

The Cowboys have taken on Gutierrez’s “keep grinding” mantra and used it to propel them this far into the playoffs. This season should already be viewed as a success, but Canyon won’t remain content with their accomplishments, and will continue to grind towards their ultimate goal of taking home a championship.

Brett Hundley Has Room to Grow as Starter in the NFL

| Sports | November 9, 2017

When Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, formerly of UCLA, knocked Aaron Rodgers to the turf on a questionable hit in Green Bay’s week six matchup against Minnesota, it opened the door for another former UCLA star to get his start in the NFL.

Brett Hundley was projected to be a backup quarterback until either one of two things happened — Rodgers retired, or he was traded to a team desperate for a passer. Rodgers sustained a broken collarbone on the hit from Barr, expediting Hundley’s development. Bruins fans all across the world were excited to see what one of the best quarterbacks to wear the blue and gold, could do in the pros.

So far, the results have not matched the expectations. It’s easy to explain away Hundley’s stat line from the Minnesota game. He was thrown in against the fifth best past defense in the league. To date, the Vikings have allowed nine passing touchdowns, tallied seven interceptions, and have given up 1,606 combined passing yards.

In the little under four quarters Hundley played in this game, he went 18-33 for 153 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Stats of this caliber would more than likely put a starting quarterback on the bench, but at the time, were dismissed due to the rare circumstances surrounding Hundley lining up under center.

With a week of starting reps under his belt, Hundley was expected to do big things against a Saints pass defense that people assumed was one of the worst in the league. That stigma should be going by the wayside, as New Orleans is now eleventh in the league in completion percentage allowed (60.2) and total passing yards allowed (1,684). Much of this newfound success can be attributed to rookie Marshon Lattimore, who has two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and a team-leading eight defended passes for the season.

This context helps to explain Hundley’s paltry passing numbers in the 26-17 loss the Packers suffered. He went 12-25 for 87 yards and an interception, courtesy of Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro. The only redeeming quality Hundley brought to the field in this matchup was his running ability. He gained 44 yards on just three carries, one of which went for a touchdown.

Okay, New Orleans’s pass defense is actually good, so Hundley with a bye week before a Monday night matchup against the Detroit Lions should be ready to breakout, right? Wrong. The Packers were never close in their most recent game against their NFC North rival, which ended with a 30-17 Green Bay defeat.

On paper, Hundley’s stats look solid. He went 26-38 for 245 and no interceptions. He didn’t throw a touchdown either, but the lack of a turnover should be viewed as a victory, in and of itself. Again, Hundley did most of his damage with his legs, rushing for 22 yards on four carries, one of which put six points on the board.

The pedigree of passers in Packers history, from Bart Starr to Brett Favre, and most recently, Rodgers, puts Hundley in a position where anything but instant success is seen as a failure. Green Bay was assumed to be a playoff, and quite possibly, a Super Bowl team, but both these conclusions seem to be slipping further out of grasp.

For 2017, Hundley is completing 59 percent of his passes and has thrown just one touchdown to four interceptions. His impact as a starter has been so minimal that the Packers sought the talents of Brian Hoyer, who was released by the 49ers after they acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. Hoyer ultimately decided to go back to where his career began, backing up Tom Brady in New England.

Green Bay’s schedule doesn’t lighten up for the rest of the season. Their next game is against a Chicago Bears pass defense that has allowed only eight touchdowns all season. Outside of this matchup, they still have the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, Vikings, and Lions all left to play.

The Packers haven’t ruled Rodgers out for the season, but it is unlikely he will return this year, especially if the playoffs become out of reach. Pessimists will bemoan the fact that Hundley will most likely be the starter for the next eight games, while optimists will celebrate the remaining schedule as an opportunity for Hundley to grow.

The injury Rodgers sustained shows that nothing in an NFL season can be predicted. So, while people may have their minds made up on what Hundley will or will not be as a pro quarterback, the fact remains no one really knows until Green Bay’s 2017 season is in the books. Hundley’s numbers may look bad now, but that doesn’t suggest he won’t have a breakout game. The only thing to do is sit back and enjoy the random chaos of the NFL.

Friday Night Lights – Playoffs!

| Sports | November 9, 2017

SCV Playoff Football Schedule

Canyon Cowboys v. San Gorgonio Spartans: Friday, 11/10 at 7:30 p.m. @ San Gorgonio High School
Golden Valley Grizzlies v. Nipomo Titans: Friday, 11/10 at 7 p.m. @ Nipomo High School
Hart Indians v. Sierra Canyon Trailblazers: Friday, 11/10 at 7 p.m. @ Granada Hills High School
Saugus Centurions v. Sonora Raiders : Friday, 11/10 at 7 p.m. @ College of the Canyons
Valencia Vikings v. Great Oak Wolfpack: Friday, 11/10 at 7 p.m. @ Valencia High School
Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals v. Hamilton Bobcats: Friday, 11/10 at 7 p.m. @ Canyon High School

Female Athlete of the Week – Keili Butler

| Sports | November 9, 2017

A junior and runner on the cross country team at Trinity Classical Academy, Keili Butler took it home at the Heritage League Championship. She took first place in the girl’s race with a time of 20:52, which helped the Knights clinch the Heritage League title and gave Butler the league’s individual title as well.

“Keili loves to be on the cross country team and be with her friends,” said Kathleen Kahovec, cross country coach at Trinity. “She was a gymnast for 10 years and tried cross country in high school and is a natural athlete. She wants to be a nurse some day and care for people. She has a heart for helping people.”

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Male Athlete of the Week – DeGabriel Floyd

| Sports | November 9, 2017

A junior and wide receiver for Golden Valley High School’s football team, DeGabriel Floyd tallied 122 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, along with 89 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown in the Grizzlies’ 34-12 victory over West Ranch High School. The win last week helped Golden Valley earn a playoff berth, where they will face Nipomo in the CIF Southern Section Div. 6 playoffs this Friday at 7.

“DeGabriel is a true difference maker for our team,” said Golden Valley football coach Daniel Kelley. “As well as being a great football player, he is also a great leader and team player.”

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Paseo Aquatics’ Julia Wolf Selected to National Training Camp

| Sports | November 9, 2017

Julia Wolf has never shied away from competing against the best.

A 17-year-old Valencia resident, Wolf was recently recognized among the nation’s elite 50-meter freestyle swimmers spending four days at the prestigious National Training Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. An original Paseo Aquatics swimmer, she was one of 48 swimmers selected to attend the camp.

Every year USA Swimming selects the top three swimmers in each Olympic event to experience, first-hand, the training and preparation that goes into becoming a member of the U.S. Olympic Team. For the four days athletes learn about post-race recovery, drug and supplement rules, psychological training skills, nutrition, race strategy and more.
Wolf’s qualifying event for the National Camp was in the 50-Meter Freestyle and she was one of 48 top U.S. swimmers to be selected to attend the camp.

Wolf, who previously swam for Valencia High School before this year, spent five years training under Paseo Aquatics Coach Chris Dahowski, and became the first Paseo Aquatics swimmer to qualify for the World Trials, where she competed in the 50 Freestyle last July in Indianapolis.

“Five years ago I was asked to coach Julia Wolf by her father, Jay, at the Paseo Club,” said Dahowski, adding that Wolf was one of three original swimmers he agreed to coach. “I accepted this large challenge never having coached swimming before. But being a swimmer I knew what it took to be a top competitor. To say (that) what Julia has accomplished by being selected for Junior National Camp in such a short amount of time is rare would be a huge understatement.”

The week after qualifying for the World Trials, Wolf was offered a scholarship and committed to swim for Indiana University, where she will begin competing as a Hoosier in September 2018. She has since moved to Bloomington, Ind. to spend her senior year of high school training at the university.

“I am proud of Julia and honored we shared many years together grinding out practice after practice,” Dahowski said. “I look forward to being a part of her next journey at the collegiate level. As of right, now I’m solely focused on the athletes in our program and the ones currently in front of me, always wondering, who’s next? Who am I going to get there next? Dreams, they are powerful, to say the least.”

Los Angeles Chargers Looking Their Best Entering Bye Week

| Sports | November 2, 2017

 

All the noise surrounding the Los Angeles Chargers has suddenly stopped. Now that the team seems to be finding its footing as it heads into a bye week, it is the perfect time to take a look at how L.A.’s newest team is fairing without all of the drama.

October was a good month for the Chargers. It began with a 26-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly is currently seen as one of the strongest teams in the NFL, so the fact L.A. was able to keep the game close was a sign of good things to come.

These good things came in the form of a three-game winning streak that helped bring the Chargers out of the AFC West basement. Although it took late game heroics from Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon, L.A. was able to defeat the New York Giants 27-22. Then came two conference matchups against the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos.

This time, a last second Nick Novak field goal gave the Chargers the 17-16 win over the Derek Carr-led Raiders. The most defining win came against the Broncos, who were kept scoreless at the hands of L.A.’s defense. Joey Bosa collected two sacks and the Chargers took the game 21-0, marking Denver’s first shutout in 25 years.

Things came to a head when Los Angeles traveled to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots. After all of the improvements L.A. had made, this could have been anyone’s game. When Gordon broke an 87-yard touchdown run to give the Chargers a 7-0 first quarter lead, it felt as though they had snatched the momentum and would possibly ride it to a fourth-straight victory.

That was not the case, however. A 2-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski tied the game, and set off a run of 18 straight points for New England. The Chargers didn’t give in, scoring on a 24-yard touchdown from Rivers to Travis Benjamin to make the score 18-13 in the final quarter. They wouldn’t score again, and a Stephen Gostkowski field goal made the final score 21-13 Patriots.

As with the Eagles, the fact that Los Angeles was able to hang tight with a team none would be surprised to see in the Super Bowl is a move in the right direction. The bye week gives them a chance to review and work on the aspects of the game that left them just short of victory against these two tougher opponents. When the Chargers take the field again, it will be in Jacksonville against the Jaguars and their stout defense, giving L.A. a great test.

A 3-5 record may not breed the utmost confidence in a team, but Los Angeles’s key players are performing above and beyond what the record might reflect. Rivers is fourth in the league in passing yards, with 2,028, and his 13 touchdowns puts him in the top-10 of all quarterbacks. He hasn’t played perfectly, however, as his six interceptions are top-10 amongst all quarterbacks as well, and his 60 percent completion percentage is near the bottom of the NFL.

Gordon has also been pulling his weight from the backfield, coming in sixth place for rushing touchdowns, with four. His 526 rushing yards are seventh most in the league. Gordon also leads the Chargers in receiving touchdowns, with four, giving Rivers a dual-threat at the running back position.

Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen have made a reliable duo at wide receiver all season. Allen comes in sixth in the NFL in receiving yards, with 548, while Benjamin has scored three receiving touchdowns.

Defensively, the Chargers have been up and down all season. The unit is near the top of the league in points per game, at 19, but in terms of turnovers, they have had trouble forcing them at an efficient rate. No L.A. defender has more than one interception, and only Benjamin has recovered more than one fumble, both of which were balls that he fumbled himself. There is a positive note to this, in that the Chargers still have a positive give/take ratio, as they have forced nine turnovers, and have given the ball up eight times themselves.

Where Los Angeles truly shines on defense is getting to the quarterback. They are top-four in the NFL, with 26 total sacks, due in large part to the play of Bosa. The second-year standout already has 8.5 for the year, and by registering one against Brady, he set the record for most sacks in a player’s first 20 games, with 19. Bosa, despite how well he’s played, can’t definitively be called Los Angeles’ best pass rusher. Melvin Ingram also has 8.5 sacks, making for a deadly duo coming off the edge.

The Chargers’ schedule is ripe with tough competition. After the Jaguars, L.A. plays a tough Buffalo Bills team, the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, and their conference rivals in the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Oakland Raiders. After the tough start Los Angeles had to the season, the playoffs may be a lost cause, although in this crazy NFL season, few teams are out of the running yet.

No matter what happens postseason time, the Chargers have shown they are a team that can fight through adversity and hang with the best teams in the NFL. The jury is still out on whether or not they can endear themselves to the community in Los Angeles, but they have been doing all of the right things recently, which is as good a start as any.

Lakers Look for Relevance in the Rookie Clas

| Sports | October 26, 2017

There’s an air of excitement around the Los Angeles Lakers that has been missing for quite some time. This is the kind of impact glorified rookies, like Lonzo Ball, and surprisingly successful players, like Kyle Kuzma, bring to a team that’s been searching for its first winning season since 2012-2013.

The Lakers played three games in their first week of the season, in which Lonzo and Kuzma had an opportunity to introduce themselves and their skill-sets to the NBA watching public. So far, the results have been mixed.

Starting with Lonzo, the second overall pick out of UCLA put on a show in his second start, which came against the Phoenix Suns. He barely missed out on his first career triple-double, scoring 29 points, collecting 11 rebounds, and dishing out nine assists. The fearless nature Ball has on the court was on full display, for better and for worse. He shot 12-27 from the field for a 44 percent success rate, and committed four turnovers.
Lonzo’s accuracy has been an early season issue. At UCLA, he was able to maintain a remarkable 67 percent efficient field goal percentage (eFG%). In the pros, however, Lonzo’s eFG% has tanked to 40 percent, the second lowest on the team.

His inefficient scoring hurt the Lakers in their 119-112 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Lonzo scored just eight points, going 3-13 from the court. In a game decided by 10 points or less, missed shots are a big factor as to why a team couldn’t close the gap.

Lonzo is also under the added pressure that his father, LaVar Ball, created with his constant remarks and boasts to the media. Washington Wizards guard John Wall recently stated that the younger Ball will face tougher competition because of the elder Ball’s actions.

Patrick Beverley proved this point in the first game of the season, holding Lonzo to three points and allowing him to hit just one shot. The Clippers as a team had a defensive rating of 87 points per 100 possessions, owed in large part due to the work Beverley put in on Lonzo. As a result, the outcome was a 108-92 Clippers win. Reports surfaced claiming Beverley taunted Lonzo outside of the locker rooms after the game, treatment one wouldn’t expect any other rookie to receive.

Obviously it is way too early to try to make any kind of evaluation as to the kind of player Lonzo will become. His performance in the 132-130 win over the Suns suggests Lonzo has the potential to produce a good amount of triple-doubles. However, his struggles against better competition is showing that he is still a rookie, and will have to work through his growing pains with a target on his back.

The Lakers put a lot of trust in Lonzo’s hands, a trust he has rewarded by accounting for 34 percent of all assists Los Angeles produces with him on the court. Lonzo faces an insane amount of pressure, but throughout his journey to the NBA, he has proven he can handle it.

Kuzma is the feel good story of the rookie class so far. He was picked 27th overall in the past NBA draft, and was lost amongst the Lonzo media circus. Then came Summer League. Kuzma shocked everyone, posting 22 points per game on 51 percent shooting. He earned the Summer League championship game MVP, scoring 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Los Angeles’s 110-98 win over the Portland Trailblazers.

There was reason to be skeptical, however, as Summer League is not the best measuring stick for how well a player will do come the regular season. In his first three games, Kuzma got more and more comfortable. He scored eight against the Clippers, 15 against the Suns, and 20 against the Pelicans. This upward trend in scoring can be attributed to a growing confidence that comes with getting used to the NBA.

Offensively, Kuzma has been everything the Lakers could have asked for. He comes in third on the team in offensive rating, accounting for 131 points per 100 possessions. Kuzma also places third in eFG% at 67 percent. In the Pelicans match, he was pivotal in bringing the Lakers back in the fourth quarter, scoring six points in the frame.

There are situations in which Kuzma can improve. Although he helped stretch a short-lived lead against New Orleans, he also missed a few shots, and committed a couple costly fouls that allowed the Pelicans to take back the lead and ultimately win the game. It is a good sign that Kuzma’s areas of improvement are this specific, as he hasn’t shown any glaring issues yet.

Lonzo and Kuzma show an incredible amount of promise. It is this potential that Los Angeles hopes will bring the franchise back to its winning ways. Their professional careers are just in their infancy, but keep an eye on this dynamic duo. They very well could be the cornerstones the Lakers build their future on.

Male Athlete of the Week – Jalin Lewis

| Sports | October 26, 2017

A wide receiver for Golden Valley High School’s football team, Jalin Lewis had 93 rushing yards, 83 receiving yards, and a rushing and receiving touchdown in Golden Valley’s 38-0 win over the Canyon High School Cowboys last week. The victory marks the first Foothill win for the Grizzlies this season. They look to continue their winning ways against Hart on Friday.

“Jalin is an amazing football player,” said Golden Valley football coach Daniel Kelley. “His performance vs. Canyon was electrifying every time he touched the ball.”

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Female Athlete of the Week – Lauryn Shockley

| Sports | October 26, 2017

A standout member of the Valencia High School volleyball team, outside hitter Lauryn Shockley collected 21 kills and 24 digs in the Vikings’ 3-2 win over Saugus. Valencia (8-1 in Foothill) concluded their regular season by beating Golden Valley on Tuesday.

Lauryn was also named to the All Tournament team at the Redondo Power Classic tournament. She helped lead the team to a 5-1 record last weekend, with the only loss coming to eventual champion Redondo High School in the semi finals.

“Lauryn is a joy to coach,” said Valencia Vikings girls’ volleyball coach Ray Sanchez. “I’ve known her since she was 12 and she’s always had a very outgoing personality. She’s also an amazing athlete (who) has been an impact player on every team she’s played for.”

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Friday Night Lights in Santa Clarita

| Sports | October 26, 2017

SCV Football Schedule

Canyon Cowboys v. Saugus Centurions: Friday, Oct 27 at 7 p.m. @ Canyon High School
Golden Valley Grizzlies v. Hart Indians: Friday, Oct 27 at 7:30 p.m. @ College of the Canyons
Valencia Vikings v. West Ranch Wildcats: Friday, Oct 27 at 7 p.m. @ Valencia High School
Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals v. Fairmont Prep Huskies: Thursday, Oct 26 at 7 p.m. @ Yorba Linda High School
Trinity Knights v. Rio Hondo Prep Kales: Friday, Oct 27 at 7 p.m. @ Rio Hondo Prep

Athletes of the Week – Carlotta Nonnis Marzano and Amanda Tabanera

| Sports | October 19, 2017

A winning combination for Valencia High School’s girls’ tennis team, Carlotta Nonnis Marzano and Amanda Tabanera both dominated in their respective singles sets against Saugus High School last week. They each swept their competition 6-0, 6-0, 6-0. Valencia’s 16-2 win over Saugus has the Vikings one game behind West Ranch in Foothill standings.

“They are amazing tennis players and wonderful young ladies who are hard-working and loyal team players,” said Valencia High School tennis coach Annie Kellogg. “At this time, they are undefeated in league play and they are both 23-1 in their Foothill League matches in singles. They are an incredible one-two punch for our line-up.”

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