Last year things were different. Saugus and Valencia did not get a chance to play due to the spread of COVID-19. But this year, these two teams opened up their respective Foothill League games with a bang. 

Saugus beat Valencia in a close game, 28-21. This is the third time this season Saugus has faced a seven-point deficit at halftime and managed to claw their way back to a victory. 

“It’s just the nature of these kids. I mean, gotta remember this,” Bornn said. “This senior class has been through a school shooting, a pandemic, an abbreviated sophomore season. I’m talking about a group of kids who’ve had to face one hurdle after another one kick in the crotch after another and they keep getting back up. So I mean, that’s just the nature of these kids”. 

Being down 21-14 on the road is a very hard task to come back from. But not for this team. Late in the third quarter defensive back Austin Treahy picked off Valencia quarterback Trey Erickson which was the momentum shifter of the half. 

Having a short field and early in the fourth quarter Saugus quarterback Tj Cataldi was able to find wideout Aj Goodman for a 15-yard receiving touchdown. This tied the game at 21 with around 11 minutes still to go in the game. 

It felt like all Saugus after that. On Valencia’s next drive, Erickson was sacked on a third down by Wyatt Hawk which gave the Centurions the ball back and what felt like momentum. 

On the next Saugus drive on the very first play, Cataldi found his favorite target of the night: Goodman. This time for a 75-yard receiving touchdown which put him at 132 receiving yards for the night. Saugus led 28-21 midway through the fourth quarter. 

“I was in the slot and I saw the corner open told my coaches post corner is gonna be wide open,” Goodman said. “Then we executed the play and made a touchdown”. 

Valencia would then go on a very long drive. Starting at their own 20, the Vikings heavily relied on one man to get them down the field. Running back Daniel Hernandez was given the ball 9 different times whether it was a run or a pass. Despite the effort, the Vikings faced a fourth down on the Saugus 11-yard line. In the play, the Vikings gave up a sack. Saugus’ defensive linemen Andrew Gomez came up huge for the Centurions getting the pressure they needed.  

Saugus would then burn all of Valencia’s timeouts but end up punting it back to the Vikings with just under two minutes remaining. With the ball at their own 41, Valencia was able to cross the 50, but with 16 seconds remaining Saugus’ defensive back, Jadon Lemmons sealed the game for the Centurions with a beautiful game-sealing interception. Giving Erickson his second pick of the half. 

“We knew they were gonna go hail Mary,” Lemmons said. “You know, three tight, 16 seconds left just gonna throw it up. I was ready for the play over the top”. 

Saugus starts off its 2022 Foothill League campaign undefeated, beating last year’s CIF-SS Division 5 winners.  

“Well, any time you play an unbelievably disciplined, fundamentally coached football team you know you’re gonna be in for a long night,” Bornn said. “It was just a really good team effort by all of our kids. Our coaching staff put together an outstanding game plan”. 

Valencia coach Larry Muir speaks to team after loss to Saugus at Valencia, Friday 091622 (Daniel Rios/Canyons News)

But it was not all bad for Valencia. They had a really nice opening half with a really strong run game. With around 6:46 remaining in the second quarter, Hernandez was able to find some space and score a 35-yard rushing touchdown to put up Valencia 14-7. Giving him 105 total yards for the game. 

Shortly after that Cataldi was picked off by Valencia defensive back Tyler Thompson for a 47-yard pick-six. This gave Valencia the seven-point lead going into halftime. 

For the Vikings next week they look the bounce back against the newest member of the foothill league Castaic who struggled in their foothill league opener losing the Golden Valley 41-0. The game will be an away game for Valencia.  

For Saugus they have their work cut out for them playing an undefeated West Ranch team that shut out Canyon 45-0 in their foothill league opener. The game will be a home game for Saugus. 

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