- Football Final: Sierra Canyon 38, Ontario Christian 0
Coming off one of the most successful boys’ basketball seasons ever for a San Fernando Valley small-school program, Sierra Canyon High is ready to parlay the momentum behind star returnee Jahmel Taylor.
Taylor averaged 22 points and six rebounds as a sophomore last season to help Sierra Canyon win the Southern Section Div. V-A championship and to advance to the regional final in the CIF State playoffs.
Taylor broke his leg in September and was in a cast for six weeks, but the 6-foot guard says he is full speed, and he is expected to be in the starting lineup for the season opener at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Simi Valley.
“I’m feeling pretty good. My leg is a lot better,” Taylor said. “I think I’ll be ready for the season. I’ve been practicing for three weeks.”
Taylor and Jesse Howell, a top 6-6 post player, are among just five returning players including injured Julian Brooks (toe), so there are a lot of new faces. There were 11 underclassmen on last year’s 27-6 team, but more than half of them left, including the shocking departures of freshmen phenoms Marsalis Johnson and Bryan Alberts, who have both transferred to Village Christian for their sophomore seasons.
“Those two were great players, and they contributed a lot to the team,” Taylor said. “I think the decision they made, I wish them the best because we’re still friends, and I still talk to them. I haven’t lost any love. I wish them the best.”
There are several key transfers in place, including Reggie Prince, a senior who is at his fourth school after stops at Montclair Prep, Sylmar and San Fernando. He’s busy with football but should make an impact once he joins.
Justin Ifekungwe, Jamani Spencer and Brandon White are among the new players expected to make key contributions.
“We look pretty good. Everyone is working hard,” Taylor said. “We’re coming together as a team, and we’re learning from each other.”
As for Taylor, he will be the key. He has offers from USC, Oregon, Washington State, Colorado, SMU and Virginia Tech. He hit 75 3-pointers last season, and Sierra Canyon coach Ryan Silver calls Taylor “the best shooter in the Valley.”
Taylor swears he has not lost his shooting touch despite missing most of the fall because of the leg injury.
“I still have it,” Taylor said.
But he did not go so far as to predict he would score more points this season.
“I just plan on doing what it takes to win – scoring, rebounding, passing, whatever it takes to win,” Taylor said.
SIERRA CANYON PLAYS FOOTBALL QUARTERFINAL TONIGHT
With an eye toward an eventual Southern Section East Valley football championship and the certain CIF State Bowl berth that would go with it, Sierra Canyon (11-0) is trying to stay perfect.
The season continues at 7:30 tonight at Ontario Christian (9-2) in the quarterfinals. The Trailblazers are seeded No. 1, and defending champion Paraclete is No. 2.
Sierra Canyon’s Tyler Stewart has passed for 1,781 yards (64 percent) and 29 touchdowns. Directing an offense that averages nearly 400 yards, as Sierra Canyon has outscored opponents by an average of nearly 37 points.
Preston White has 28 receptions, William Young has 92 tackles and Patrick McGown has 16 sacks.
Ontario Christian plays good pass defense, totaling 14 interceptions including four each by T.J. Spykstra and Caleb McClure. Mike Salas has rushed for 1,019 and scored 13 touchdowns.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Southern Section quarterfinals
East Valley Divison
Sierra Canyon (11-0) at Ontario Christian (9-2), 7:30 p.m. – Sierra Canyon, hoping to improve after finishing as a section runner-up last season, has won by an average of more than 36 points.