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Canyon football camp: O-line filled with youth, potential

Posted: August 24, 2014 10:28 p.m.
Updated: August 24, 2014 10:28 p.m.

Canyon's offensive line features two sophomore starters and only one returner from last year's lineup, yet coaches are optimistic about the unit's potential. Photo by Cory Rubin/For The Signal

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They’re young, tough and they don’t care if you don’t know their names.

Meet the Canyon High School offensive line ­— one of the most intriguing groups on the team this year.

A few months ago, it would have appeared the line was going to be an area of concern for Canyon with four out of five starters from a year ago graduating.

But after plenty of shuffling lineups and the emergence of some young players, this unit may now be considered a strength.

“We’ve gotten so much stronger and faster and just overall smarter on the O-line this year,” said Canyon senior right guard Jordan Sykes. “People are probably going to be quite surprised by us.”

Sykes is the lone returning starter along the line after the departure of key contributors like Daniel David and Chris Blas-Reed, a pair of All-Santa Clarita Valley selections from last year.

The new starting group includes two sophomores, center Colton Costanza and right tackle Tim Huss, who have both shown a lot of potential with their size and athleticism.

“They might be pretty close to being the (best) athletes of offensive linemen throughout the league,” said Canyon offensive line coach John Quam. “That’s the exciting part, especially with two sophomores in there that are that athletic at this age.”

Costanza in particular looks like he has a big upside given his already above-average size — 6 feet, 1 inch, 250 pounds — and how well he moves.

Other than Costanza though, no player on the line is listed above 220 pounds. This isn’t going to be the biggest line in town.

But Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez says that’s typically the case with this team. What they lack in size though, they make up for in grit.

“I think that’s just the Canyon way,” Gutierrez said. “I think it’s something in our community that’s part of the tradition. (The offensive line has) always been work horses.”

When coaches first saw the new group of linemen in the spring, the starting group was up in the air. Quam said he rotated players in and out for months before finally settling on the final five just a few weeks ago during fall camp.

In the end, Canyon will mix three seniors in with the two sophomores. After Sykes, the Cowboys have two first-time varsity starters with Scott Davis at left tackle and Cesar Ochoa at left guard.

Davis played a small amount as a slot receiver and linebacker last year before making the transition to the line.

After three weeks of practice and a scrimmage against Palmdale on Friday, this group is starting to get into a nice rhythm.

“Off the field we’re a very close group so I think that just plays well into the transition onto the field,” Davis said.

This combination of senior maturity and young talent has come together well for Canyon, which could come in handy for an offense that may lean heavily on the running game led by Myron McAfee.

Canyon’s offensive line could very well be its dark horse.

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