HE SAID “No one expected us to get this far, and we’ve proved a lot of people wrong. We want to keep on going strong and do the best we can do.” – Canyon linebacker Tyler Hawkins, on winning the Foothill League title after most prognosticators predicted the Cowboys would finish no better than third. DID YOU KNOW? The Canyon-Damien matchup today is a rematch of one ofCanyon’s most dramatic playoff victories, a 40-36 win in the 2003 Div. II quarterfinals that was decided on backup Will Brogan’s 23-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds. Brogan, a junior who had played sparingly that season, subbed for injured star Nate Longshore, who went down with one minute remaining. Brogan was knocked to the turf just as he threw the pass and didn’t see the touchdown. But he sure heard the roar of the crowd. “I was pretty happy,” Brogan said. “All I was really trying to do was to avoid a sack or an interception. Then I got up and saw everyone celebrating.” SPOTLIGHT Starting the season on the bench as a reserve after missing most of the summer with a knee injury, Valencia’s Virgil Hill has blossomed into one of the division’s top receivers. He has 22 catches for 345 yards and three TDs, and none of his receptions was more important than a 47-yarder on the final play in a victory last week over Saugus. Quarterback Michael Herrick broke California’s all-time passing-yardage record and surpassed 10,000 yards on Hill’s catch. “It was a great feeling, and I was just so happy to be a part of it and so happy that Michael got the record,” Hill said. “No one deserves it more than him. The last play of the game? It was perfect timing.” OFFBEAT Fumbles and interceptions have killed Saugus during most of its losses this season, so much so that coach Jason Bornn would rather not know his team’s exact turnover ratio. “From a talent prospective, I think we’ve actually overachieved this season, because we don’t have any Division I athletes or superstars, but our turnover ratio has got to be obscene,” Bornn said. “We’ve had more fumbles and interceptions than I’ve ever seen. We just have to think of way to resolve it.” OFF THE CHART Since Hart coach Mike Herrington took over in 1989, Hart is 16-0 in first-round playoff games, winning by an average margin of 36.1 points: 1989: Hart 41, Dana Hills 13 1990: Hart 13, Los Alamitos 10 1991: Hart 33, El Dorado 26 1992: Hart 45, Downey 14 1993: Hart 61, Pasadena 25 1994: Hart 42, Torrance 13 1995: Hart 56, Inglewood 20 1996: Hart 41, Downey 7 1997: Hart 42, Torrance 20 1998: Hart 56, Highland 6 1999: Hart 62, Quartz Hill 18 2000: Hart 45, Chaminade 3 2001: Hart 48, Redondo 7 2002: Hart 52, El Toro 0 2003: Hart 56, Upland 14 2004: Hart 35, Glendora 14 NUMBERS GAME 4 Missing Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo defensive starters during last week’s loss to Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo. All are expected to return for tonight’s Div. II playoff game against visiting Valencia. SOUTHERN SECTION DIV. II PLAYOFFS First Round: tonight, 7:30 HART (8-2) vs. GLENDORA (7-3) at College of the Canyons Player to watch: Ben Rodriguez, RB, Glendora. Rodriguez (1,423 yards, 8.1 avg., 14 TDs) has come on strong the past month, and he gave a 314-yard performance last week in a victory over Damien of La Verne. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior has rushed for 705 yards in the past three games. Outlook: Hart is 16-0 in first-round playoff games under coach Mike Herrington but the Indians need to be focused, because Glendora is looking to avenge last year’s 21-point playoff loss. Hart has a legacy of success – eight section titles, including five (in six appearances) the past seven years – but the Indians have been inconsistent. Tyler Lyon, coming off a 3,100-yard junior season, has passed for 1,142 yards and eight TDs in seven-plus games. Hart starting RB Delano Howell (ankle) is questionable, so Lyon will primarily be responsible for bringing Hart back to form after after last week’s heartbreaking 16-14 loss to Canyon. “We were talking about the toughest losses we’ve ever had, and that loss to Canyon was right up there with all of them,” Herrington said. “I’m trying to pump the kids back up, because as a coach you’ve got to do that.” LB Patrick Sarkissian (100 tackles) and DB James Wheeler (6 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries) lead Hart’s defense, which has allowed an average of 269 yards per game. Glendora QB Brad Stockham has had an up-and-down season, passing for 1,223 yards (46.3 pct.) with 10 TDs and 14 INTs. Andrew Cedargreen (124 tackles), a 6-0, 230-pound LB, has totaled 11 or more tackles in six consecutive games. VALENCIA (7-3) at TRABUCO HILLS (6-4) Player to watch: Trevor Mooney, TE, Trabuco Hills. Mooney, a 6-5, 232-pounder who has nine receptions, isn’t the Mustangs’ No. 1 target, but he has great tools. He’s been offered scholarships by eight Pacific-10 Conference universities. Outlook: Valencia can’t be happy about making a two-hour-plus trek to south Orange County, but a third-place finish in the Foothill League meant a trek to Mission Viejo to face Trabuco Hills, which is the South Coast League’s No. 2 entry. “I’m a little surprised we’re playing Valencia, but I don’t think it’s going to be a picnic for them,” Trabuco Hills coach Jason Negro said. “It’s a long drive.” Trabuco Hills has won five of six home games, and two of Valencia’s three losses have been on the road. “It doesn’t really surprise me that we’re opening on the road,” QB Michael Herrick said. “We got shaken up a little bit towards the end of the season and finished in third place, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. I think we can bounce back and put ourselves in a good position.” All eyes figure to be on Herrick, who owns California’s all-time passing yardage record with 10,002. He’s passed for 2,490 yards and 10 TDs this season, and he’s also rushed for eight TDs. Shane Vereen has 1,223 yards rushing, 37 receptions and 21 TDs. Jason Engelberg (25 receptions, two TDs) is among four WRs with 21 catches or more. Trabuco Hills, like Valencia, comes from a strong league, and it employs a balanced attack led by quarterback Sean Reilly, who has passed for more than 2,000 yards with 15 TDs and only five INTs, running back P.J. Vallier (1,787 yards, 17 TDs) and receiver Stephen Tedesco (49 receptions, 1,059 yards, 9 TDs). DAMIEN (6-4) at CANYON (9-1) Player to watch: Richie Wirthlin, WR/DB, Canyon. Wirthlin appears to be full strength after missing four games because of a broken hand. He had seven receptions in Thursday’s victory over Hart and is tied for the team lead with 23. He also has four INTs. Outlook: Canyon’s J.J. DiLuigi, who has rushed for 1,443 yards and scored a school-record 35 TDs, probably is licking his chops after watching video of last week’s Damien-Glendora game, in which Glendora’s Ben Rodriguez rushed for 314 yards. DiLuigi is the among California’s hottest players, and Canyon undoubtedly will feed him the football until someone stops him. Canyon is not one-dimensional. Foothill League passing-efficiency leader Austin Civita has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,522 yards and 12 TDs. He’s also an effective scrambler. Many of Canyon’s most important players are on defense, and the Cowboys have allowed an average of 269 yards. Among the defensive stars are DL Garrett Leary, LBs Tyler Hawkins and Matt Brown and DBs Wirthlin, Randy Rigg and Chris Kingsbury. Damien spent most of the season ranked among the Division’s top 10 before finishing with three consecutive losses. LB Chris Lucero, a 5-10, 174-pounder, has 68 tackles and five sacks. SAUGUS (4-6) at MISSION VIEJO (10-0) Player to watch: Chane Moline, RB, Mission Viejo. A highly touted 6-2, 240 pounder – he’s 50 pounds heavier than most of Saugus’ starting defenders – Moline’s stats (791 yards rushing, 14 receptions, 22 TDs) are down compared to last year, but only twice has he had more than 14 carries in a game. Outlook: It could be a long ride home for Saugus. Top-seeded Mission Viejo has won 65 of its past 66 games, including 24 in a row since a loss to Hart in the 2003 final. Saugus is without its best player, QB Zach Summers, who suffered a season-ending broken collarbone last week. The Centurions, hoping to win a playoff game for the first time since 1999, are 0-6 against .500 opponents this season. FINAL STANDINGS FOOTHILL LEAGUE Team League Overall Canyon 5-0 9-1 Hart 4-1 8-2 Valencia 3-2 7-3 Saugus 2-3 4-6 Burroughs 1-4 4-6 Burbank 0-5 3-7 Others: Golden Valley 2-8 (freelance); West Ranch 2-1 (freelance). SEASON LOGS CANYON (9-1) 55 at Leuzinger 0 42 Burroughs/R 21 27 Simi Valley 34 42 South Torrance 6 21 Crespi 0 45 Burbank 10 55 Saugus at COC 7 42 Burroughs/B 7 49 Valencia 21 16 Hart 14 Tonight Damien GOLDEN VALLEY (2-8) Home: Canyon HS 0 Burbank 66 14 Knight 24 14 Pioneer Valley 67 7 Alemany 38 14 Palos Verdes 62 14 Quartz Hill 51 7 at Ontario Christian 56 24 Salesian 14 38 at Carpinteria 7 28 St. Genevieve 20 HART (8-2) Home: College of the Canyons 7 Moorpark 6 21 at St. Bonaventure 33 38 Westlake 7 23 at Birmingham 13 34 Loyola 27 14 Saugus 7 55 at Burroughs 21 17 at Valencia 14 28 Burbank 0 14 Canyon 16 Tonight Glendora SAUGUS (4-6) Home: College of the Canyons 57 at Blair 0 48 Pasadena 7 21 Chino 48 7 Notre Dame 21 0 at St. Francis 20 7 at Hart 14 7 Canyon 55 35 at Burbank 28 22 Burroughs 14 7 Valencia 35 Tonight at Mission Viejo VALENCIA (7-3) 35 at Bishop Amat 21 51 Birmingham 30 48 El Toro 20 30 St. John Bosco 3 28 at Notre Dame 35 36 at Burroughs/B 21 42 Burbank 3 17 Hart 14 21 at Canyon 49 35 Saugus 7 Tonight at Trabuco Hills AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. 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