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Vikings spearhead kickoff of openers

Saugus hosts Pasadena at COC; West Ranch, Hart hit the road

Posted: September 11, 2008 10:31 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Valencia High School quarterback Dominick Solley.

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The Valencia Vikings host the Thousand Oaks Lancers in their season opener today.

The game, which kicks off at 7 p.m., will be at the Vikings' Paul Priesz Stadium.

Head coach Larry Muir said that the team is excited to suit up and hit guys other than their own.

"The team looks good," Muir said. "We're really excited and it's going to be a big challenge for us."

The Vikings who are among the favorites in the Foothill League, CIF polls recently ranked Valencia No. 2 in the Southern Section Northern Division, have a bevy of talented offensive stand-outs.

Leading the pack will be junior wide receiver Zack Tartabull.

Last season, Tartabull caught 40 passes for 432 yards and scored three touchdowns.

This year, the 6-foot 180-pounder already has his sights on doing big things for the Vikings squad.
Tartabull confidently stated that he wants to break records this season.

Muir has already tagged him one of the best receivers the school has ever had.

Heading the Vikings offense will be first year varsity starter Dominick Solley.

The 5-foot-10 signal caller, who Muir stated will be a running back threat, adds a different dimension to the Vikings offense.

"He's a good athlete," Muir said, "He had a really good camp and he's doing well. He has to continue to progress as a quarterback and lead our offense in both phases of the game, both running and passing."

Another factor for the Vikings will be returning varsity starter Jordan Thompson.

Last season Thompson rushed for 951 yards on 123 carries scoring 10 touchdowns.

The Lancers defense will have a hard time with the Vikings proven offense, but the key to this year's Thousand Oaks team is its offensive line.

Thousand Oaks returns quarterback Ian Shultis and running back John Lister.

Lister finished the 2007 season accumulating 1,118 yards on 204 carries and 12 touchdowns, while Shultis threw for 1,694 yard, 123 completions and 11 touchdowns.

Thousand Oaks defensive corps will be led by returning varsity starters line backer Ryan Thompson, defensive tackle Dereck Jester and corner Curtis Dempster.

The Lancers finished 5-6 last season, and according to Muir are one of the favorites this year in the Marmonte League.

Muir said the team will have to be physical up front if they have any chance at beating Thousand Oaks.

"Offensively we have to be efficient and move the ball," he said. "We have to defend the run well and put some pressure on the quarterback."

Pasadena at Saugus
The first high school football game of the season at College of the Canyons' Cougar Stadium belongs to Saugus, in a showdown with Pasadena.

"They're very fast, very athletic," said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. "I think they'll cause some problems for us. But if we do what we're capable of doing, I think we'll be fine."

Saugus runs out of the spread formation and will go with a 3-4 look on defense.

The Centurions are ranked No. 7 in the CIF Southern Section's preseason poll in the Northern Division.

They feature senior running back Ryan Zirbel, who was named the Foothill League Offensive Player of the Year. He finished seventh in the state in rushing with 2,289 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was the second-leading rusher amongst juniors.

Quarterback Desi Rodriguez piloted a run-heavy Saugus squad with his right arm and his legs. Rodriguez is coming off a season where he threw for 986 yards on 77-of-144 passing and 12 touchdowns.

Rodriguez's best attribute is his running ability, coming off a 1,256 yards and another 12 TDs.

Saugus was a first team all-CIF-SS Northern Division choice and all-Foothill League first team, and co-MVP of Saugus's squad that finished second in the Foothill League and reached the CIF semifinals.

An intriguing player to look for is receiver Josh Coefield, who is stepping off the track and coming to the football team.

Hart at Palmdale
Hart will open its season against Palmdale at 7:30 p.m. today on the Falcons home field.

Last season, Hart was the perennial powerhouse with a formidable cast of players and the Indians finished atop the Foothill League with a 12-1-1 overall record.

Absent this season will be running back Delano Howell (Stanford), defensive player Patrick Larimore (UCLA) and quarterback B.R. Holbrook (Univ. of New Mexico).

A new lineup will head the Indians program starting with the two-headed quarterback of Darren Sholes and Spenser Souza. Souza won the battle in this week's match-up. He will start this game for the Indians.

Senior running back/linebacker Demitri Diamond and fellow running back Jake Stevens will lead Hart's offensive corps.

The Indians will have a challenge with the defending Golden League champions.

The Falcons finished 12-2 last season and were runners up in the Southern Section Western Division.

Palmdale returns quarterbacks Brandon Mims and Joshua Shaw. The team also returns leading rusher, running back Marquell Jefferson.

Last season Jefferson rushed for 1,249 yards on 166 carries.

Defensively, Hart will rumble with returning defensive leaders Anthony Crane, Tony Castillo and Walter Woods.

Canyon at Granada Hills
Canyon will travel to Granada Hills with kickoff starting at 7 p.m.

The Cowboys' near comeback, in its season opener against CIF-Central Section defending champion Bakersfield last Friday, was a good indication that the team is ready to get back to the top.

Canyon's opponent this week will not be as big of a threat.

Granada Hills finished 4-6 last season and fifth in the West Valley League.

The Highlanders lost leading rusher Anthony Dawkins and quarterback Ryan Ritthamel.
Last season, Dawkins ran for 1,149 yards on 184 carries.

Cowboys quarterback Jordan Adamczyk will have to connect early with receivers Chris Rivas and Kevin Voogt to give Canyon an immediate advantage.

In the Drillers' 38-32 win over the Cowboys last Friday night, Rivas ran for 176 yards on seven catches, while Adamczyk was 14-of-22 throwing for 264 yards.

Rivas and Adamczyk will have to combine for another stand-out performance to come out on top in this matchup.

West Ranch at Lancaster
Before the West Ranch Wildcats take the field for the first time this season, they will already be a few starting players down.

Defensive end Hank Lambirth and defensive tackle Blake Culhane both could be out for the year with hand injuries.

Receiver Zak Snell will be out at least four weeks with a knee injury.

Those setbacks could factor into West Ranch's game at 7 p.m. tonight at Lancaster, a team it beat 35-18 last season.

"We got hit by the injury bug pretty bad," West Ranch head coach Mike Kane said. "We have to be positive and go out there. They've got some athletes, they've got some speed."

Lambirth hurt himself on a play in the Blue-Gold intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 29. Culhane hurt himself in a practice, while Snell did the same in a practice sometime this month.

"They were both kind of fluke injuries," Kane said.

West Ranch played Burroughs in a scrimmage on Saturday, and Kane had mixed reactions.

As good as we played on offense, we played just as bad on defense," Kane said. "We had a hard time tackling."

Matt Szmanski will step in for Snell at wide receiver.

The defensive end rotation will help spell Lambirth. Sophomore Christian John, Spencer Ortega and Caleb Miller will help fill the bill for Culhane.

"We have to continue to improve and get ready for Foothill League," Kane said.

In last season's win over Lancaster, quarterback Jake Bernards threw for 91 yards on 7-of-14 passing and one interception. With a more wide-open, balanced attack, Bernards could improve on those numbers.

Ross Bacon ran for 98 yards in the win. The Wildcats defense picked up a fumble off a sack for a 1-yard touchdown and a 20-6 lead at the time.

Lancaster finished 6-5 last season, finished third in the Golden League and reached the CIF-SS playoffs. This is the season opener for the Eagles, who lost 24 seniors.

Running back Darren Beckett, who rushed for 700 yards last season, and quarterback Cash Oliver are among the key players.

Hoover at Golden Valley
The Grizzlies are looking to rebound from a season-opening 28-8 defeat to Littlerock last Friday at Harry Welch Stadium at Canyon High School.

Golden Valley has an opportunity to snap a seven-game losing streak, dating back to last season.

As of presstime it was undecided whether Justin Oden or Jimmy Hughes would start at quarterback.

Running back Joseph Figueroa scored the lone touchdown, and will figure into the equation on defense as a linebacker.

Hoover High of Glendale went 0-10 last season and 1-9 the previous season.

wmcneal@the-signal.com

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