View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Prep football: On the defensive

Canyon’s new-look defense is ready to prove it can match last season’s output

Posted: August 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Defensive linemen Paul Cornelius, left, and Juan Rodriguez await the snap during practice on Wednesday. The defensive graduated a large portion of last season's squad, which allowed just 17.25 points per game.

View More »

Yes, this is a much different looking Canyon football team compared to recent years.

Three-year varsity starting quarterback Jonathan Jerozal has graduated and moved on, prompting an offensive overhaul in terms of scheme.

But in reality, the biggest hit for Canyon may very well come on the other side of the ball, where the team graduated more than half of its starters from a year ago.

Going back to the CIF division and state title winning Cowboy teams of the past, the program has developed a reputation for playing hard-nosed, aggressive defense.

So how does a team coming off a strong defensive season like it had in 2011 follow up after the losses of three All-Santa Clarita Valley linebackers?

“Everybody on the defense is young, so there’s a new identity,” said Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez.

As for that tradition of defense, it held true last year, as Canyon finished as the second best scoring defense in the Foothill League by giving up just 17.25 points per game.

That was second only to Valencia’s 11.27.

For Canyon, it was thanks in large part to All-SCV second teamers Adam Evans and Robert Hooper — the top two tacklers on the team — along with All-SCV honorable mention Garret Miller.

All three graduated, leaving the burden on a handful of returners.

So far, it’s been a steady progression throughout the offseason.

“We trust each other now,” said returning junior safety Zach Cuha. “Before, at the beginning, we didn’t trust each other, but now we do. So we should be able to compete and just make plays.”

And that’s exactly what Gutierrez has asked of the unit — to make plays, force turnovers and get the ball back in the offense’s hands.

“I think these guys are just as physical,” Gutierrez said. “I think that’s an identity that’s deep in the Cowboy tradition. Be physical. Get 11 hats on the ball.”

Part of that mentality starts with a few of the key cogs holding it all in place.

At defensive end, you have senior Juan Rodriguez, who is one of just two All-CIF linemen in the entire league coming back this year.

The only other one is Saugus’ Denley Rodriguez.

Juan Rodriguez is also the team’s starting left tackle on the offensive line, but he’ll be one of the few veteran faces on the defensive side.

He’ll be helped out by seniors Esteban Vasquez and Justin Derpic, who’ll move off the line to be a middle linebacker this year.

“We’ve been playing together since freshman year so we have a lot of chemistry,” Derpic said of his fellow seniors.

It will be up to the small group of veterans to guide the rest of the group of underclassmen.

It’s a defense with a very different look than in 2011, but one that will try to keep the Cowboy tradition alive.

Then again, Rodriguez may have said it best: “We’ll see when it comes to game day.”


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...