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The rough road to redemption

Canyon (2-8) at Moorpark (9-1) 7:30 p.m.

Posted: November 19, 2009 9:24 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Canyon's offense, led by sophomore quarterback Jonathan Jerozal (7), lines up against Hart on Oct. 23. A flip of the coin put the Cowboys in the playoffs, but they will need more than luck to stay there. Canyon's first test will be tonight when the team travels to Moorpark High School for a 7:30 p.m. matchup.

 

Has it been detailed enough?

Canyon football had a rough season.

Had, being a word of emphasis.

The next season begins tonight when the Cowboys, by virtue of luck or playing well at the right time, play the former No. 1 team in the division, Moorpark at Moorpark High in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.

The Cowboys, at 2-8 during the regular season, won their final two games and forced a coin flip for the third and final playoff spot from the Foothill League.

Canyon won the coin flip last Friday night.

“I would have never thought we’d be sitting here talking about playoffs three weeks ago,” said Canyon head coach Chris Varner.
Varner admitted things were pretty bleak at that point.

On Oct. 30, Canyon lost to West Ranch 23-18 in a game in which Cowboys quarterback Jonathan Jerozal was stopped on the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal with eight seconds left.

Canyon was 0-8, its worst start in 41 years of playing varsity football, and almost out of hope.

“It’s tough for teenage boys when they’re not getting immediate gratification,” Varner said. “The school was down. Everybody was a little down.”

Not anymore.

Varner said there has been new life in the Cowboys since a Nov. 6 31-0 victory over Golden Valley.

Then Canyon defeated Saugus 17-10 last Friday.

“It’s dangerous — scary for us,” said Moorpark head coach Tim Lins. “They had a nice resurgence down the stretch. We’re rebounding off a tough loss. We have to be on our game.”

For nine weeks, Moorpark (9-1) could have laid claim to being the best team in the division.

The Musketeers beat teams like Notre Dame, Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks — all Southern Section playoff teams.

Lins credited senior leadership and a solid defense for much of the success.

Offensively, senior running back Austin Edmonson leads the team with 1,027 rushing yards, but the squad hasn’t received much production from the passing game.

Yet Moorpark continued to win.

Then came last Friday.

Moorpark lost 38-14 to Westlake.

“We were down 14-7 then there were four offensive series there where we really didn’t get the job done,” Lins said. “We have to be very consistent defensively. Canyon poses a little different problem offensively.”

Canyon is balanced offensively, gaining 1,961 yards through the air and 1,396 on the ground.

But there’s something more important going in Canyon’s favor — it’s healthy.

Varner said his team has been running at about 50 percent health-wise for most of the season. It’s at 90 percent now, he said.

Daniel Hooper and Tyler Miller have returned from early season injuries to stabilize the linebacker positions.

Linemen Dylan Kawaa, Shane Moniz and Josh Rodriguez have also overcome injuries.

Yet as healthy as this Canyon team can be, it will still have an uphill climb against Moorpark.

The Musketeers are a hefty favorite.

The climb begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

 

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