CANYON HAS GRAND ASPIRATIONS WITH SO MANY RETURNING, COWBOYS EYE HART AT TOP.
Some Foothill League football followers are daring enough to proclaim this finally might be the year of Canyon High. But considering Hart of Newhall (13-1 in 2002) has won 58 league games in a row and returns many of its key starters - including QB Sean Norton and his leading WR, Kevin Ciccone - how can you pick against the Indians?
True, Canyon (10-2) returns several of the state's best players, such as QB Nate Longshore and LB Andrew Schantz, and the team did defeat Hart twice in passing competitions this past summer. But Hart's mystique remains alive and well until a Foothill League opponent beats the Indians in a real game, and that hasn't happened in 12 years.
When Canyon and Hart face off Oct. 24 at Canyon, the game figures to be quite a showdown - perhaps the most anticipated Hart-Canyon matchup since 1986, when Hart QB Jim Bonds went head to head against Canyon QB Ken Sollom before more than 10,000 at College of the Canyons.
This year, it will be Hart's Norton vs. Canyon's Longshore. Both figure to sign Division I college scholarships in the near future, but the first order of business will be this critical face-off. Get there early.
Norton is a 6-foot, 170-pounder who makes up for his lack of size with toughness and accuracy. Last year, he completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 4,014 yards and accounted for 42 touchdowns (35 passing), carrying Hart to the Southern Section Div. II final. Ciccone (79 receptions, 1,329 yards, 15 TDs) has worked hard over the offseason to increase his speed and strength.
Hart also has a talented RB in Dan Howell, a breakaway threat who also is a top DB. The DL is bigger and stronger than usual, led by returning starters Kevin Bell, Joe Bernardi and Zac Zimmerman. Defensively, Hart LB Brian Elledge set a school record with 134 tackles last year. Elledge, a 6-2, 200-pounder, might start at WR, too.
Canyon also has plenty of talent depth. Longshore, a 6-5, 230-pounder who passed for 2,096 yards and 18 TDs as a junior, is among the top prospects in the nation. Schantz is among California's top recruits, ranked No. 2 at his position by Student Sports. He's a two-time all-league selection who made an impact at the Nike combine at USC this summer, running a 4.5 40-yard dash and excelling in various other drills.
Leading RB Louis Montano (1,439 yards, 24 receptions, 21 TDs) and leading WR Sean Coen (59 catches, six TDs) also are back.
Montano bulked up during the offseason. At 5-9, he's increased his weight to nearly 190 pounds after gaining 30 pounds of muscle. He even won a couple of weight-lifting contests during the summer. Coen is a three-year starter who could finish as the school's all-time leading receiver.
The other Foothill League teams are clearly a notch below.
Valencia (6-5) has the league's fastest player, WR/RB Geoff Tisdale, and perhaps the league's top DB, Brandon Nichols. But sophomore QB Michael Herrick is untested. OL/DL Bobby DeChellis and LB Torrey O'Brien are tough, and junior LB Gary Cox could emerge into one of the league's brightest young prospects after an impressive junior varsity season.
`'We've got a young group, but they're very enthusiastic, and they really enjoy the game of football,'' Valencia coach Brian Stiman said. ``They have a huge learning curve, but in high school football you never know.''
Burroughs of Burbank (5-6) made the playoffs for the first time since 1996 last year. But the team lacks experience at key positions. New QB Nick Payne and fast WR Evan Gomez must develop quickly. DB Matt Patterson is 6-3 and among the league's best after intercepting three passes last year. The team has a couple of quality returning OLs in Fernal Vasquez and Eben Britton.
Saugus (2-8) is coming off one of its worst seasons in history. But new coach Jason Bornn has signed on, and there's hope the 32-year-old ex-Marine can turn things around. QB Travis Babin, who pushed his way into the starting lineup as a sophomore last year, is back, along with RB/DB Drew De Rousseau and OL Alex Dekok. Those three were among the team's best players last year.
Burbank (2-8) has lost 50 league games in a row and hasn't won more than two games in a season since 1992. However, QB Mike McDonald is back after passing for 1,723 yards and 13 TDs last year, so he should provide a good starting ground.
Gerry Gittelson, (661) 257-5218
2 photos, box
(1) Hart receiver Kevin Ciccone is even faster and stronger than last season, when he had 79 catches for 1,329 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer
- Gerry Gittelson
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Article Type:||Statistical Data Included|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2003|
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