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Defense could make all the difference for Canyon football

Posted: August 10, 2013 9:37 p.m.
Updated: August 10, 2013 9:37 p.m.

Cornerback Tyler Clark (12) closes in for a stop on running back Trevor Prata during Canyon's preseason football camp at Canyon High School on Friday.

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This is the part of the football year where things are graded on paper and not the field being that we are still three weeks from the start of prep football season.

With that being the case, the grade for Canyon football’s defense might be slightly higher than its offense going into 2013.

Surprised?

Probably, considering the fact that the Canyon defense took a lot of hits on the field and from the outside for its performance last season.

In games two through five, the defense gave up an average of 45 points per game.

But once Foothill League play hit, head coach Rich Gutierrez simplified things for his defenders and that resulted in Canyon’s defense giving up 22.1 points per game in the team’s final seven contests, including surrendering just seven points to Hart’s high-powered offense (the Indians also scored on an interception return).

“Something did change,” said Canyon senior defensive back Tevon Priestley. “It was slow in the beginning. We were trying to get used to everybody picking up the pace. We had new faces and some returners. Middle of the season we had a connection and started competing even better.”

Whatever disconnect there was, it shouldn’t be there in 2013.

Canyon has seven returning starters on defense and five on offense.

The significant losses are on both sides of the ball, but will likely affect the offense more.

Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky is gone, as is Canyon defensive lineman Juan Rodriguez, who was the team’s top-rated defender. But he was also arguably its top offensive lineman.

Canyon’s secondary will benefit from having experience under its belt — senior Zach Cuha on the other side of the returning Priestley and twin juniors Israel and Liam Cabrera at the safeties.

The Cowboys will also have returning experience with linebackers Travis Clarke (a freshman call-up last season) and Myron McAfee.

Canyon made promotions on the interior line with senior Philip Dent and Ryan Swart coming in, but Dent points out an area where Canyon really improved on defense.

“This year we have coach (Brian) Adams and he rotates a lot,” Dent said. “He really switched around our defense to our abilities to what we can do. We all swarm to the ball. We’re disciplined. We’re all one unit.”

Gutierrez elevated Adams, a lower level coach at Canyon with more than two decades of coaching experience, to defensive coordinator.

Canyon also added former Sun Valley Poly head coach Scott Faer as linebackers coach.

During a passing tournament this summer, Gutierrez said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn commented about how big of a pickup that was for the Cowboys.

“(Bornn) said, ‘Is that Scott Faer? How did you get him? ... That is a huge pickup,” Gutierrez remembered.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though.

Gutierrez was cautiously optimistic about the defense.

“(The) guys are going to have to perform,” he said.

cosborne@signalscv.com

661-287-5529

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