Thursday, June 20, 2024

West Ranch football tops Castaic with strong second-half effort

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VALENCIA – The West Ranch football team didn’t get a firm grasp on the lead until relatively late Thursday night, but once the Wildcats did, they showed their teeth in a 56-28 win over Castaic on Thursday night.

West Ranch (7-3, 5-1), which has secured a CIF-SS playoff spot, and Castaic (6-3, 3-2), which was hoping to clinch a spot Thursday night, traded touchdowns throughout the first half, punctuated by two rushing scores apiece by Castaic quarterback Tyler Lewis and West Ranch running back Luke DePerno.

The teams were tied at 21 with 2:24 until halftime when West Ranch put together an efficient drive. Junior quarterback Liam McDaniel’s scramble for a 5-yard score put the Wildcats up 28-21 at the break.

West Ranch was able to gain full control of the contest after the break. A 28-point barrage, keyed by an opportunistic defense and DePerno, gave the Wildcats a 56-21 lead at the end of the third quarter.

“For some reason my guys like to just keep it close and not play their best,” West Ranch head coach Chris Varner said through a chuckle about the first half back-and-forth. “I don’t know why but we gotta get rid of that getting ready for playoffs. Put together a full two halves and we could be nice.”

Varner later mentioned that “they did what I asked ‘em to do. It took ‘em a little while, but I’ll take it.”

As for West Ranch’s running game, where the junior DePerno led the way with 149 yards and three touchdowns, Varner gave credit to both the offensive line and his burgeoning star back.

“Well it’s a great thing and the O-line doesn’t get enough credit. We’re undersized, but those kids, they played their butts off… They open the holes and Luke does the rest and that’s what we need.”

DePerno both appreciated his standout regular season – he eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in the win – and had an eye on the CIF Southern Section playoffs that lie ahead.

“It was a great game to end it off. I broke 1,000 yards,” he said. “Couldn’t be happier about that and just looking forward to playoffs. … Just can’t wait for playoffs and try to make a run.”

DePerno said that West Ranch has been a “second half team” this season, but he made it clear that the group should have had a standout start as well.

“It was too close, he said about the first two quarters. They weren’t as good as us, we knew we should have shut them out in the first half.”

Castaic will finish the regular season next week looking for a way to land a guaranteed playoff spot. Castaic has built a quality resume and could be selected as an at-large team in only its second season of varsity football.

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