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The Age of Excellence: Welcome back

SCV Sports: The Decade in Review

Posted: December 22, 2009 10:48 p.m.
Updated: December 23, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian running back Orlandi Pena, with the ball, runs during a 2003 game.

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Sure, Santa Clarita sports saw a rough 2002, but it proved to be more of a short valley than anything else.

The biggest symbol of triumph may have been the Hart football team, as the Indians went down from Mission Viejo’s punch in 2002 and knocked the Diablos out with a counterpunch in the 2003 CIF-Southern section Division II title game.

Reflecting on the decade as a hole, maybe no other school was more successful than Valencia High.

It had to start somewhere, though.

In 2003, the Valencia boys volleyball team won the school’s first ever CIF title.

The Santa Clarita Valley was also introduced to a crop of future stars in Shannon Murakami, Michael Herrick and Casey Mulligan.

It knew Jerry Owens, but was reintroduced in a big way.

Allyson Felix took the Santa Clarita Valley to the world stage.

In 2003, it was “Welcome back.”


Jan. 24 — Girls basketball has become part of Santa Clarita’s sports identity. A 58-37 Hart victory over Saugus seems to carry little weight today, but at the time, it was a heavyweight bout between teams who were co-champions. It also featured some of the greatest girls basketball player’s in this area’s history. Hart had future Ohio State basketball player Ashlee Trebilcock and future Loyola Marymount player Amanda Patton. Saugus had the trio of future St. Mary’s player Sheridan Arredondo, Cal State Bakersfield player Jessi Loring and University of Idaho player AnnMarie Summerhays. Then there was this little freshman guard at Saugus named Taylor Lilley. She would transfer from Saugus to Hart the next season and become the valley’s greatest all-time 3-point shooter. She is a senior at Oregon.

Feb. 7 — The Canyon girls soccer team is off to a 17-0 start, its latest win, a 1-0 victory over Valencia, marks the team’s second straight Foothill League title. Four days later, the winning streak ends at 19 games. Valencia will show its staying power later in the season.

Feb. 15 — The Master’s College pitcher Kristen Neil pitches her second straight perfect game for the Mustangs’ softball team in an 8-0 win over Pomona College. TMC would later crack the NAIA’s top 20, but the season will eventually end with the program’s demise.

Feb. 20 — College of the Canyons pitcher Dana Eveland strikes out 15 batters in a complete game effort as the Cougars defeat Glendale College 11-3. The left-hander has spent parts of five seasons in the Major Leagues. In 2009, he was 2-4 with a 7.16 ERA in 13 gamers with the Oakland A’s. Overall, he is 13-17 with a 5.54 ERA in 83 games.

March 1 — Saugus basketball’s season ends at the hands of two-time defending CIF-Southern Section Division I-A champions San Clemente. Future UCLA star Lindsey Pluimer helps finish off the Centurions 48-45 and the prep careers of Arredondo, Loring and Summerhays. It’s not the last we’ll hear of San Clemente.

March 4 — Valencia’s girls soccer team wins the biggest game in the school’s soccer history. The Vikings defeat Brea Olinda 1-1 (6-5 in penalty kicks) to advance to the CIF-Southern Section Division II finals. The Vikings’ goalkeeper who helps the team advance is probably a better softball player. Jaisa Creps, a star catcher, would end up playing four years for the UCLA softball team, winning a national title in 2004.
On the same day, Hart girls basketball beats Mission Viejo 48-44 in the Division I-A semifinals. Trebilcock scores 23 points.

March 8 — Hart doesn’t come close in the Division I-A girls basketball final. San Clemente blows out the Indians 68-38.
Valencia loses 2-0 in the Division II soccer finals.

March 14 — Valencia Country Club hosts a Champions Tour event for the second year. The SBC Classic tees off and Gil Morgan jumps out to a two-stroke lead. The next day, rains wash out play.

March 16 — Rain has shortened the SBC Classic to a two-day 36-hole event. The Santa Clarita Valley is introduced to Tom Purtzer. The journeyman golfer stakes his claim at Valencia Country Club by winning his first of two events on the course. Purtzer shoots a 36-hole score of 9-under 135 to edge Morgan by one stroke, Purtzer would finish in the top 10 at Valencia Country Club seven times in eight Champions Tour events.

March 21 — The Master’s College’s women’s basketball team loses 52-51 in the Elite Eight of the NAIA Tournament.

April 2 — Saugus girls swim silences one of the longest streaks in Santa Clarita Valley history. The Centurions hand the Indians their first loss in a league meet since 1982 — a 102-meet winning streak. Saugus swimmer and three-time All-Santa Clarita Valley girls swimmers of the year Lizette Patterson, who would later swim for San Diego State, wins three events.

April 26 — Hart High graduate Kyle Boller is selected in the first round, 19th overall, of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Boller watches the draft at home with his family and friends in Stevenson Ranch. To this point, Boller has not tasted much success in his six-year NFL career. He has played in five games for the St. Louis Rams this year, passing for 876 yards and three touchdowns to six interceptions. He has thrown for 8,722 yards and tossed 48 touchdowns and 50 interceptions in his career.

April 30 — The Master’s College wins its first-ever baseball Golden State Athletic Conference with a 3-1 win over Biola. The Mustangs are led by 1999 Hart graduate Jerry Owens, a former star wide receiver at Hart who was briefly at UCLA on a football scholarship. Owens returned to baseball in 2002 after giving up the sport in favor of football during his junior year in high school. Owens reaches base four times this day.

May 6 — Valencia boys volleyball wins its 24th consecutive league match — a stretch dating back to April 3, 2001. The 3-0 victory over Saugus also clinches the team’s third straight Foothill League title.

May 11 — College of the Canyon baseball defeats three-time defending state champion Riverside College to win its bracket of the Southern California Regional playoffs. COC’s season would end in the state’s Super-Regionals on May 18. Eveland would sign a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on May 29.

May 13 — Valencia baseball clinches its second straight Foothill League title with a 15-3 victory over Burbank. Freshman Casey Mulligan hits two two-run home runs in the game and knocks in five runs. Mulligan shifts around in his career — from shortstop to third base to catcher — and as a senior becomes the All-SCV Baseball Player of the Year. He gets drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals as a catcher in 2006 and later shifts to become a pitcher. Mulligan has now become a legitimate pitching prospect in the Cardinals organization.

On the same day, Hart beats Saugus 12-11. Shortstop and eventual top Cincinnati Reds prospect Chris Valaika scores four runs.

May 30 — Valencia junior pitcher Jared Clark throws his second no-hitter in three starts and hits his fourth home run in three postseason games as Valencia defeats Centennial of Corona. The win advances Valencia to the CIF-SS Division II semifinals.

May 31 — Valencia boys volleyball defeats Ventura 3-0 to win the CIF-SS Division II title. It is Valencia High School’s first-ever CIF title. Tony Ker, who would later have his number retired at Valencia, leads the way with nine kills, nine digs, two blocks and two aces.

June 3 — Valencia baseball loses 6-2 in the Division II semifinals. Reflecting back, Valencia had one of the most talented baseball teams this decade.

Four players would eventually be drafted by Major League Baseball teams — Clark, Mulligan, Danny Worth and Garrett Reick. Matt Aidem would play at Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara and catcher Wes Pascolla received a scholarship offer from Long Beach State.

Owens becomes the highest Major League draft pick since Saugus’ Roger Salkeld was selected third overall in the 1989 draft. The Master’s College outfielder goes 57th overall in the second round to the Montreal Expos.  

June 7 — Canyon’s Alysia Johnson takes sixth place in the 800 meter finals at the CIF State Track and Field Championships. Hart’s Dayne Comrie took fifth place in the 300 hurdles. He becomes the first Hart athlete to medal at the event since 1995.

June 20 — The Master’s College softball program ends after three years. The decision is made after its head coach Randy Clark resigns, several girls decide not to return and the school determines that its playing facilities are not adequate. The team goes 37-19 in its final season.

June 26 — PGA Tour professional and two-time Major champion Mark O’Meara takes the ceremonial first tee shot to signify the opening of the Tournament Players Club Valencia.

Aug. 26 — Allyson Felix, a Santa Clarita Valley resident who went to L.A. Baptist High, is eliminated in the 2003 Track and Field World Championships in France in her pro debut. Felix would go on and win silver medals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, as well as a gold medal as a member of the 4x400 relay team in 2008.

Sept. 13 — Before he knew it, sophomore quarterback Michael Herrick was down 21-0 in his debut for Valencia football. Herrick then showed a sign of things to come. He helped lead the Vikings to a 31-28 comeback victory while throwing for a school record 421 yards. Herrick would also lead the Vikings to a comeback victory the following week.
Saugus head football coach Jason Bornn debuts with a 28-26 victory Hilltop High of San Diego.

Sept. 25 — People still remember this one because of the photograph. Westlake goes for a two-point conversion and the victory and gets it to defeat Hart football 25-24. Hart falls to 0-3. But, The Signal captures a photograph of the two-point attempt and it shows that Westlake’s Tahj Mowry’s knee is down before he gets in the end zone.

Oct. 16 — The opening night of Foothill League football has one of the greatest shootouts in Santa Clarita Valley history. Canyon defeats Valencia 52-45. Future Cal quarterback Nate Longshore tosses for 338 yards and five touchdowns. Sean Coen catches a Canyon record 13 receptions. Herrick throws for 342 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, including a Hail Mary pass that is intercepted on the game’s final play.

Oct. 23 — With any Hart-Canyon football matchup there is a lot of hype. This one had a little more. There were those who thought this Canyon team — with the likes of Longshore, Coen, Louis Montano and Andrew Schantz — could break Hart’s 59-game Foothill League winning streak. Even Canyon players were confident — maybe overconfident. This story was never published, but a group of kids who said they were Canyon football players left a message on The Signal’s sports line the week of the game. They went off on what they were going to do the Indians, how they were going to end the streak and the like. The game was televised on Fox Sports West 2 and in the second quarter, the lights at Canyon High went out, causing a 34-minute delay. In the end, Hart, led by quarterback Sean Norton’s 393 total yards and six touchdowns, defeated Canyon 56-21. The headline in the next day’s paper read: “Much Ado About Nothing.” Hart would end the Foothill League undefeated.

Nov. 6 — Valencia’s Cassie and Alexa Strange win the Foothill League girls tennis doubles title. This ends up being Valencia girls tennis’ finest season to date, as it reaches the semifinals of the Division III playoffs. On the same day, Canyon’s Jace Getskow leads the Cowboys boys cross country team to its fifth straight league title.

Nov. 8 — College of the Canyons football, the No. 1 team in the nation, moves to 9-0 with a 28-21 win over Bakersfield. The game’s key play is a late sack by Domata Peko, that quells a Bakersfield comeback. Peko is now in his fourth season as a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Santa Clarita Christian, after an 0-9 season, moves to 8-1 and claims its first-ever Heritage League title. Stephen Mercier is the key player in this game with 249 yards and four touchdowns. Though SCCS would win CIF-SS Division I 8-Man championships in 2008 and 2009, this is the season that puts the Cardinals on the map. SCCS won its first seven games.

Nov. 22 — Hart’s Brooke Russell wins the CIF-Southern Section Division I girls cross country state championship. Russell finishes with a time of 17:37. Another freshman, Saugus’ Shannon Murakami, finishes seventh in the race. Murakami ends up becoming one of the greatest cross country runner sin this valley’s history. She is currently at UCLA. Russell didn’t do too shabby either — she runs for Princeton.

Nov. 25 — Saugus junior golfer Melanie De Leon has one of the finest girls golf season in valley history end at the CIF State Golf Championship in Calimesa. She shoots an 81, nine strokes behind the event’s winner. De Leon went on to become a four-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection at Nevada.

Nov. 29 — Russell medals at the CIF State Cross Country Championships with a sixth place finish. The Canyon girls team finishes third overall, led by Lauren Walker’s 16th overall finish. Murakami finishes 10th.
COC’s football team loses 14-10 to Grossmont in the Southern California semifinals and finishes the season at 11-1. Quarterback Jason Beck, who would later play at BYU, struggles in the game, completing only 13-of-32 passes for 137 yards. The loss, though, sets the stage for a memorable 2004.

SCCS makes its first-ever football CIF title game with a 61-26 win over Cal Lutheran. Orlandi, who would later be Orlando, Pena runs for 217 yards and scored five touchdowns on offense. He also intercepts a pass, makes 12 tackles and scores on a fumble recovery.
Dec. 5 — Canyon football loses 56-21 to future USC and New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Mission Viejo in the Division II semifinals. Canyon turns the ball over seven time, including six times by Longshore in his final high school game. Longshore, though, had a celebrated career at Canyon as a three-year starter who helped the Cowboys return to prominence after years of mediocre play.

Dec. 6 — Hart football defeats San Clemente 35-21 in the Division II semifinals. Dan Howell, who would later become a stellar linebacker at Washington, runs for 136 yards.
SCCS is humbled in the CIF-SS 8-Man Large Championship game, losing 44-0 to Riverside Christian.

Dec. 13 — A season after losing to Mission Viejo 10-6, Hart defeats the Diablos 25-7 at the Home Depot Center to claim its eighth CIF title. In his final high school game, Norton is 20-of-24 for 309 yards. He finishes his career with 8,051 career passing yards, which coming into 2009 was 25th all-time in state history. Ryan Wolfe catches two touchdowns in the game. Wolfe missed the entire regular season with a knee ligament injury, but returned to help lead the Indians to the finals. Wolfe just finished his collegiate career at UNLV as the Mountain West Conference’s all-time reception leader with 283. Sanchez was just 11-of-23 for 178 yards and three interceptions.

 

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