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Saugus at Valencia: This could be the clincher

Saugus (3-5, 2-1) at Valencia (8-0, 3-0), 7:30 p.m.

Posted: November 5, 2009 9:56 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia's Matt Nyberg (82) and Alex Bishop celebrate after a touchdown last Friday at College of the Canyons. Valencia beat Hart in the game 56-7.

Just when things were starting to turn around for Saugus football, they go back the other way.

Not only are the Centurions, who have won two straight games after losing five in a row, playing highly touted Valencia tonight at 7:30 at College of the Canyons, but they have also lost their starting quarterback for the season.

Senior Zack Gauthier broke a vertebrae in his back, according to Saugus head coach Jason Bornn.

The Centurions (3-5, 2-1) will now be quarterbacked by junior Chace Boscia, who entered last Friday's 42-26 Saugus victory over Golden Valley in the third quarter after Gauthier suffered the injury.

"It's a challenge in that you don't have somebody that doesn't have a lot of game-time experience, but we're still going to do what we do," Bornn said.

That means, Bornn said, Saugus will not try and get creative.

It's going to challenge Valencia with the same offense and defense it has been running all season.

Valencia (8-0, 3-0) expects that.

"With their defensive pressure, they do a good job up front. There's almost seven guys in the box," said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. "Offensively, obviously they have their shotgun running game."

But both sides of the ball have been inconsistent for the Centurions.

Blame injuries, for one thing.

All season, Saugus has been battered by injuries and illnesses.

Valencia has had similar issues on the defensive side of the ball, but they looked mighty last Friday in a 56-7 win over Hart.

Muir said he was surprised by the score, but not surprised by how his players played.

"They played a little faster," Muir said. "Attribute that to the work they've put in. They've paid the price."

Muir explained that playing fast meant that the defense wasn't reacting as much and it was anticipating more.

The result was possibly the best performance by a Foothill League team this season.

Hart running back Jake Stephens scored five touchdowns the week before the Indians' meeting with Valencia.

Stephens managed just 22 rushing yards against Valencia.

The Vikings also forced usually steady quarterback C.J. Reyes to throw three interceptions.

On offense, Valencia running back Steven Manfro scored five touchdowns for the second week in a row.

Saugus will also have to contend with the accuracy of quarterback Alex Bishop, who is completing 82 percent of his passes. He also hasn't thrown an interception since Week 1.

Bornn said Saugus has to lock down on Valencia's receivers and apply some pressure in hopes of flustering Bishop.

Saugus is a clear underdog in this one - a spot the team likes.

"I think from our perspective, our players know there's not a person in this valley outside of this team that thinks we have a chance," Bornn said. "The mentality of having our backs against the wall, everybody is doubting whether we can compete, it allows our guys to understand we've got to show what we're capable of doing."

It's a tall mountain to climb.

Saugus has scored 150 points this season.

Valencia has scored 154 in its last three games.

On top of everything else, a win gives Valencia at least a share of a Foothill League title.

The Vikings only championship came in 2004.


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