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2009 Foothill League Football Preview: Is 2009 a valley for the Foothill League?

Local teams have struggled during the pre-league season and compiled a 12-18 overall record

Posted: October 14, 2009 9:45 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Foothill League football spent years setting a standard in the state of California.

Rival leagues regard it as one of the best.

But it has taken a turn in 2009.

We enter the Foothill League season on a different note than years past.

In the final pre-league tune-ups last Friday and Saturday, only Valencia, the clear Foothill title favorite, was victorious.

In the four other games, local teams were outscored 181-19.

The Foothill League has a combined record of 12-18.

Canyon has never gotten off to an 0-5 start in 31 seasons of playing football.

Golden Valley has not scored a point in its last three games and has been outscored 207-13 on the season.

Three other schools are not immune as West Ranch has been up and down, Hart struggled out of the gate and Saugus has lost four straight.

So where does that leave the Foothill League?

Is this a down season or is it just a sign of things to come?

The Signal asked the question in its 2009 Santa Clarita Valley Football Preview: “Is this still title town?”

The Foothill League was represented in a CIF championship game in every year from 1998 to 2007.

Valencia, ranked No. 2 in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division poll, is a definite contender to reach a CIF championship game this season.

But what about the rest of the teams, and why all the doom and gloom?

One theory is that we are finally seeing the effects of Golden Valley and West Ranch high schools.

There is no longer a cluster of some of the best athletes going to one school. Now they are being spread out across the Santa Clarita Valley.

Take the best players from West Ranch and put them on Hart’s and Valencia’s teams and imagine the possibilities.

If Golden Valley weren’t here, Canyon would see a majority of those players.

The dean of coaches in the league, Mike Herrington, who has been Hart’s head coach for 21 seasons, said the new-school effect is not necessarily the reason for 2009’s struggles.

He says Golden Valley and West Ranch, which have been playing varsity football since 2005 and 2006 respectively, already had their effects on the Foothill League’s spread of talent.

Hart made CIF title games in 2005 and 2007 and Canyon won CIF titles in 2005 and 2006.

He says this year might just be a valley for the league.

“If you look at the overall preseason records, you’d have to say it is down right now,” Herrington said about this year’s Foothill League. “Valencia is the cream of the crop. The other schools are trying to do the best they can overall. From the outside looking in, it looks like the Foothill is down.”

Saugus seventh-season head coach Jason Bornn has an explanation.

“Parity, I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Bornn on the reason for the Foothill League’s pre-league woes.

Look at the last five Foothill League champions to get an example of the parity.

Valencia, Canyon, Hart and Saugus have all won league titles in that span.

“It will be cyclical in terms of parity,” Bornn said. “It’s more difficult now for a team to have a run like we saw with Hart (in the mid-1990s to the early part of this decade). That’s due to a couple of factors — parity, one, and the quality of coaching has improved.”

The Foothill League has shifted its pre-league opponent philosophy.

The local teams are playing less private schools. They’re playing more teams from the CIF-Los Angeles City Section. And in the future, two schools in particular — Saugus and Hart — will shed Northern Division opponents off their pre-league schedules.

Both Herrington and Bornn said it is difficult to schedule pre-league games because some leagues don’t want to play Foothill teams because of the league’s reputation.

This season, most of the powers of the Northern Division reside in the Marmonte League.

It’s a tough pill to swallow.

“We’re probably not as strong as we’ve been in years past compared to the Marmonte League,” Bornn said. “This year it’s more true than ever.”

Saugus has lost to two Marmonte League teams this year.

The Marmonte League is 5-1 against the Foothill League this season.

But the Foothill League could serve as a respite for many of our local teams.

We haven’t seen Saugus at its healthiest.

The Centurions and Canyon have had very difficult schedules.

Hart and West Ranch haven’t found consistency yet.

Time will tell whether the Foothill League’s pre-league performance in 2009 was an aberration.

One thing is certain: Things are uncertain in the Foothill League.

It should make for an interesting stretch run.


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