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PREVIEW: Canyon vs. Hart (CA)

November 1, 2012

It’s Cowboys vs. Indians in the longest running rivalry in Santa Clarita. The rivalry resumes this Friday night for the 45th meeting between the Canyon Cowboys and the Hart Indians. The game will be played at Cougar Stadium on the College of the Canyons campus. The series dates back to 1969 with Hart leading 27-17 in wins. The Cowboys won 42-24 in last season’s battle and has now won 2 in a row. The rivalry reached a fever pitch back in 2005 when the teams met twice during the season, once in the Foothill League title game and a 2nd time in the CIF Southern Section D. II championship game. Canyon won both matchups. This year, both teams are sporting 3-1 records in league play and the winner will clinch 2nd place in the Foothill League and a guaranteed playoff spot. The loser will have to keep their fingers crossed they receive an at-large berth.

To say that graduated Jonathan Jerozal has been replaced by junior Cade Apsay at quarterback for the Cowboys would not do him justice. After all, Jerozal is the all-time leading passer in Canyon football history with more than 8,100 yards and 77 touchdowns in his 3 years as a starter. Apsay has filled in nicely though, passing for just under 2,800 yards and 34 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. That’s not all; Apsay has added 12 more touchdowns on the ground. Outside of Apsay, the Cowboys have returned most of their skill players from last season’s team that came up short of their first league title in 5 years. Senior Drew Wolitarsky is one of those returning. Wolitarsky ended his junior season as the all-time leading receiver in Canyon football history. He has added more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns to that list this season to make him the record holder for career receiving yards in the state. He passed Steve Smith of Taft High who set the record in 2002. The Cowboy rushing attack is headed by senior Daniel Castro. The running game’s success has been in large part due to returning All-CIF-Southern Section Northern Division player Juan Rodriguez. Rodriguez will be on the line on offense and defense. The Cowboy defense lost all of their starting linebackers from last season. Senior Justin Derpic and sophomore Austin Barry have filled in nicely. Junior Zach Cuha along with sophomores Zach Cuha and Myron McAfee form the secondary. The Cowboys enter Friday’s game with a 6-2-1 record.

The Hart Indians entered the 2012 season as the top ranked team in the Northern Division of the CIF-Southern Section. Most of the hype surrounding the team was due to last year’s success. The Indians went 8-4 after beating Valencia, the eventual league champion, and then making it to the 2nd round of the Northern Division playoffs. The Indians have lived up to the hype; they are 7-2 on the season and need a win Friday to get an automatic berth in the playoffs. The offense has been led by sophomore quarterback Brady White. Junior Connor Wingenroth will also see action as a dual-threat quarterback. Wingenroth has rushed for 4 touchdowns this season to go with over 250 yards rushing and 150 yards receiving. White has thrown for over 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns this season. Seniors Travis Rehard and Antoine Holmes are both seeing carries out of the backfield and have combined for 9 touchdowns. Sophomore Trent Irwin and junior Wes Fitzpatrick line up outside at the receiver positions. The offensive line returned 4 of 5 starters in John Perkins, Austin Lee, Blake Porter and Erik Stafford. You will also see Wingenroth in the secondary as a cornerback along with Austin Murillo.

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