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Wildcats's D comes up big

West Ranch jumps out early on Golden Valley, cruises to 49-7 win

Posted: October 16, 2009 11:06 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.

West Ranch defensive tackle Patrick Kelly (50) celebrates with teammate Derek Georgio, right, after scoring his second defensive touchdown of the night against Golden Valley on Friday at Valencia High School. West Ranch won 49-7.

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West Ranch utilized a strong effort from running back Zak Snell and a trio of defensive touchdowns to win 49-7 over Golden Valley on Friday night at Canyon High School.

Snell scored the first points of the game when he reached the end zone from 2 yards out, giving the Wildcats (4-2, 1-0) a  7-0 lead with 8:27 remaining in the first quarter.

“I thought Zak played a great game,” said West Ranch head coach Sean O’Brien. “He led our offense, and I was very pleased with his performance. He is coming into his own.”

West Ranch quarterback Connor Eichten connected on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Josh Guzman with just under a minute-and-a-half remaining in the first frame to push the lead to double digits.

The Wildcat defense took over from there, as Patrick Kelly returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns within an 11-second span to give West Ranch a 28-0 cushion with 1:04 left in the first quarter.

“This was Patrick’s first game on the defensive line,” O’Brien said. “I would say it was a pretty successful debut. I mean, what more can you ask for than a couple of touchdowns in your first game at a new position?”

The Grizzlies (0-6, 0-1) posted their lone score of the game when Brett Melton, who was making his first start at quarterback, scrambled to pay dirt from 5 yards out 3:37 in the first half.

“There are positives that we can take away from this game,” said Golden Valley head coach Andy Campbell. “I think Brett stepped into a new spot and played well. He is only a sophomore, so we hope he can develop into a quarterback. We know this whole team is going through a growing process, and this program won’t build itself over night.”

Matt Bruns capped the first-half scoring with a 52-yard interception return to give the Wildcats a 35-7 lead at intermission.

“We have a lot to work on, but I think we can look at how the defense played tonight as something we can build upon,” O’Brien said. “You can’t really complain about three defensive scores in the first half.”

Both teams struggled offensively in the third quarter, but West Ranch managed two more scores in the fourth.

Snell got his second touchdown of the night with 8:04 left, and a 15-yard strike from back-up quarterback Tyler Killingsworth to Max Newlin with 4:17 left made the final score 49-7.

“We know that we can’t turn the ball over like we did tonight,” Campbell said. “We gave them way too good of field position. A quality team like West Ranch will capitalize on those kinds of mistakes.”

Snell finished the evening with 81 yards on 12 carries, while Eichten notched 92 yards in the air on 10-of-15 passing.

The Grizzlies showed a strong ground attack with 97 yards on 14 carries from Andrew Avila and 83 yards on 15 carries from Melton, who also chipped in 44 passing yards. Joseph Figueroa keyed the defense with 12 tackles, including five solo stops.

“It’s good to get that first league win, but we have a lot of things to work on,” O’Brien said. “I don’t want to focus on the negative parts of tonight’s game, but if we want to get to where we want to be then we need to keep getting better. The second we were done with the post-game handshakes and walked toward the goalpost, our minds were already on our next game against Saugus.”



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