AMERICAN CANYON — As the leading receiver and rusher for an undefeated football team halfway through the regular season, American Canyon’s Justin Del Rosario and Ezekiel “Zeke” Anderson must be on top of the world.
Del Rosario leads the Wolves with 223 yards receiving and two touchdowns on eight catches and Anderson paces their rushers with 411 yards and six touchdowns on 42 carries going into Friday night’s homecoming game against Sonoma Valley.
After Anderson rushed for a season-high 129 yards in last week’s 34-0 rout at Petaluma in their Vine Valley Athletic League opener, American Canyon (5-0 overall) will try to take care of business against Sonoma Valley (1-4, 0-1 VVAL) without getting too distracted by the festivities.
Or the fact they visit resurgent Napa (4-1, 1-0 VVAL) next week and host defending VVAL champion Vintage the week after that.
But after finishing second in league at 5-1 last year in John Montante’s debut as their head coach, the Wolves can’t wait to face the VVAL’s finest.
“We’re not satisfied yet, but we’re feeling good so far,” Del Rosario said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re starting from a better place this year now that our coaching staff is settled.”
Said Anderson, “It feels great to be 5-0. Our team keeps putting in the work like an undefeated team should, but we’re taking it one week at a time. We’re not taking anything for granted in this league because, the next thing you know, you lose to a team you’re supposed to beat.”
There’s no question in either player’s mind that the VVAL title goes through Vintage and Napa.
“Every team looks better this year,” Anderson said, “but there’s no doubt that Vintage and Napa will be our big rivals.”
“Vintage and Napa are the teams to beat,” agreed Del Rosario.
Anderson, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior, seems to have fit right in with Del Rosario and other seniors who are returning starters. Also a standout linebacker, Anderson has one of the Wolves’ six interceptions.
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“I like being a part of this team,” he said. “Getting to know the people you are playing with and fighting for makes you that much stronger on and off the field. We all have a good time together even when we’re not playing football.”
Del Rosario agreed.
“The best thing about playing football is being out there with my friends and making memories,” he said.
One memory both players are sure to never forget is the 99-yard touchdown pass Anderson threw to Del Rosario in the Montgomery game on a halfback option.
“Time will tell if I throw another one like that,” chuckled Anderson.
Executing trick plays to perfect isn't usually something a varsity rookie does, but Anderson isn't completely new to the varsity.
"Zeke is a smart kid who works hard," Montante said. "We saw that he belonged when he stepped into the starting defense during the playoffs last year. He's a physical player who plays with intelligence."
Anderson's father, Ian Anderson, is the junior varsity defensive coordinator and his brother, Kaleb Anderson, is on the JV squad.
Del Rosario wrestled for American Canyon as a freshman and sophomore, when he placed fifth at 138 pounds to advance to subsections. He's now listed at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds.
"Justin is naturally athletic and works hard in the weight room," Montante said. "He runs, practices routes, lifts hard. We're not surprised at all by his development."