While the American Canyon High football team might not yet resemble the 2016 juggernaut that went 11-2, the narrative feels much different after Friday’s 34-22 win over Mission-San Francisco.
The Wolves, winners of two in a row, improved to 2-3 entering their bye week and are seeking to win the Solano County Athletic Conference title for the sixth straight season. American Canyon has either shared or won the league sole possession every season since 2012.
After the Wolves lost 53-0 to perennial powerhouse Inderkum-Sacramento two weeks ago, a tweet was sent via an American Canyon High football account with words to the effect of “we can either crumble or battle.” To this point, it’s fair to say the Wolves have chosen the latter.
“They have been putting in the work in the weight room, film room and on the practice field,” Wolves head coach Larry Singer said. “You are getting more buy-in from the team – not just guys you see the first three quarters, but the guys that help out that you don’t see, like the scout team guys or the guys that are just doing special teams.”
American Canyon, which next visits Vallejo on Oct. 6, led wire to wire.
With the offensive line of Lucas Gramlick, Kekoa Wilson, Jacob Mitchell, Joseph Mendoza and Shawn Sto Domingo leading the way, the Wolves compiled 293 yards rushing on 38 carries.
Kama Aalona scored on touchdown runs of 6 and 2 yards, quarterback LaVar Seay added scoring runs of 30 and 4 yards, and Brenden Johnson scored on a 64-yarder in which he blasted a defender en route to the end zone.
Though he did not reach the end zone, the addition of dive-back Eddie Byrdsong continued to pay dividends. The bruising runner compiled 81 yards on 13 carries. Aalona added 71 yards on seven carries, with Johnson gaining 94 yards on seven carries.
“Eddie adds a great dimension to our offense,” Singer said. “When we played Vintage, (Crushers head coach Dylan) Leach said ‘We’ve got to stop this one guy.’ Right now, you can’t really do that. We’re in the process of getting back to where we were last year.”
The only downside from Singer’s perspective was not scoring more points, based on the opportunities the Wolves had at their disposal.
“That’ll get you one and done in the playoffs, and for that matter in our league, with teams like Vanden and Benicia,” Singer said. “We put the ball on the ground three times. Those kinds of things will stop a team dead.”
On defense, the Wolves rose to a much more significant challenge – preparing for an offense that in one series runs the ball out of a variety of looks, and in the next series fills the sky with passes.
“They were hard to prepare for,” Singer said. “There were a lot of schemes to get ready for. Luckily we had seen some already. We saw the Cox Box with Woodland. We run doubles and quads all the time. The 4 by 1s and empty sets were the ones we had to prepare for. That took a lot of our time. It’s hard to really hammer down on a team that runs a lot of different schemes.”
American Canyon limited the Bears to 206 yards on 53 plays.
Junior varsity call-up Derrick Conner recorded a quarterback sack. Seay, Adrian Anicete, Darius Thomas, Wilson and Angel Cazares each recorded a tackle for a loss. Johnson recorded two impact tackles (gains for 0-3 yards) while Erick Stewart, Hunter Snyder, LaVar Seay, Anicete and Wilson each added one. Aalona had an interception, and Tyler Nguyen recovered a fumble.
The Wolves enter their bye week with the wind at their backs, and return to action Oct. 6 to face Vallejo at Corbus Field.
“We need to clean up the messes,” Singer said. “We need to make sure we have our T’s crossed and I’s dotted. We’ll hammer fundamentals this week and spend some time preparing for Vallejo. We’ll game plan for them in two weeks.”
American Canyon JV 46, Mission 12
The Wolves improved to 3-1 entering Thursday’s game at Antioch, which was added after their Sept. 1 game against Vintage was cancelled due to extreme heat conditions.
Behind the offensive line of Ronald Hamilton, Josh Ricafort, Jeffery Brown, Daniel Luu and Davion Salanga, American Canyon amassed 443 rushing yards. Justin Del Rosario, Matthew Santiago and Vance Eschenburg each scored a pair of touchdowns while Ezekiel Anderson scored one. On one of Del Rosario’s scores came on a 28-yard pass from quarterback Nate Countoriotis.
On defense, the Wolves recorded two sacks and three tackles for loss, with Isaac Correa getting a sack and a fumble recovery. Del Rosario also recovered a fumble. American Canyon also recorded six impact tackles, with James Larson and Brown each tallying two.