Prep football: Saugus passing tournament crowns a champion

By Paul Putignano
Signal Staff Writer

The final day of the 2011 Saugus Under the Lights Passing Tournament started with a surprise and ended with anything but.

After a stellar opening day of the tourney, Golden Valley entered Saturday as the No. 1 overall seed in a field that included all six Foothill League teams.

The league saw mixed results, while a dominant team from Long Beach Poly drew a lot of praise and won the overall championship with a win over 2010 CIF-Southern Section Northern Division finalist, Westlake.

The Grizzlies wound up 1-2 on the day and were eliminated by Valencia in semifinals of the consolation bracket.

“We came in with the No. 1 seed and a target on our back,” said Golden Valley head coach Andy Campbell. “That’s a spot they’ve never had in their lives. … As passing leagues go, it’s all opportunities. If you’re not losing, you’re not learning.”

Campbell also noted the developing leadership of senior-to-be quarterback Reid Soliman. After losing their first-round game, the Grizzlies beat Campbell Hall before falling to the Vikings.

Valencia went 2-2 on the day and advanced to the consolation finals, where it lost to Chaminade of West Hill.

Vikings head coach Larry Muir said he is looking for more consistency at this stage of his team’s development.

And with a lot of youth on the offensive side of the ball, the team just needs time to develop more chemistry.

“We need more games,” Muir said. “It helps our youth a lot.”

As quarterback Sean Murphy continues his development, Muir credited the play of wide receivers Christian Berney and Tedric Thompson for standout play offensively.

Canyon was missing a few receivers of its own.

Junior-to-be Drew Wolitarsky was out after injuring his shoulder on Friday, while Coley Apsay missed the day’s games due to prior commitments.

The Cowboys finished 1-1, losing to Thousand Oaks 28-24 in the second round.

However, Canyon did win the lineman competition, which included such events as a sled pull, 40-yard sprints and a tug-of-war.

“I think it all starts with the line,” said Cowboys head coach Rich Gutierrez, whose team beat the Vikings in the tug-of-war to secure first place. “When you see it perform, it really builds confidence. It’s good for the whole offensive chemistry.”

Hart also finished 1-1 on the day, while West Ranch was 1-2 with a lost to Chaminade in the consolation bracket.

Saugus finished 0-2, losing to Canyon and Valencia.

“I felt like we did not play to our level of experience,” said Centurions head coach Jason Bornn, who noted the standout play of linebacker Cody Taylor and wide receiver Curtis Kahovec. “I think the kids got a good lesson today about how they need to play at a level that allows you to be competitive.”

Long Beach Poly beat Westlake 36-10 in the championship game.

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