It was the six-game pandemic season in the spring of 2021 when Chatsworth Sierra Canyon had its best football team in school history.
The Trailblazers opened by playing well against Bellflower St. John Bosco before losing 42-21, then routed five straight opponents by scores of 56-0, 42-0, 42-0, 37-0 and 51-2. It was a lost opportunity because the Trailblazers were really a Division 1-caliber team.
Fast forward to this year. Sierra Canyon, the basketball school known for its students’ famous fathers, is about to get a second chance to play in the big-boy division for football. There’s no doubt the first two games have proven the Trailblazers belong in the conversation as a top-five team in Southern California.
On Friday night, in their latest impressive performance, the Trailblazers (2-0) toyed with a fast, talented Westlake Village Oaks Christian team, winning 30-14 on the road.
Their defense, as in 2021, has superior players at nearly every position, featuring speed, size and athleticism. Freshman defensive end Richard Wesley recorded three sacks, giving him six in two games.
“Richard is going to be one of the best players in the country by his senior year,” coach Jon Ellinghouse said.
Senior linebackers Ruben Gamboa and Carmel Crunk were crushing ballcarriers. The secondary lived up to its reputation as one of the best, limiting Oaks Christian quarterback Devin Tate to 61 yards passing.
“The sky’s the limit for this team,” Ellinghouse said. “We’re playing physical defense.”
Offensively, quarterback Wyatt Becker is learning to get the ball to the playmakers and also doing a little running himself. He had a 41-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Jordan, the USC commit making his debut after transferring from Cathedral. Becker threw a 25-yard touchdown pass off a screen play to Terrell Cooks, who also had a 52-yard reception and an 86-yard kickoff return. Becker finished with 217 yards passing.
“We’re getting better every week,” said Becker, a Sherman Oaks Notre Dame transfer. “The potential is there.”
Oaks Christian’s only score before late in the fourth quarter was delivered by linebacker Christian Knoos, who stole the ball for a fumble recovery and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Sierra Canyon is on a redemption tour. A year ago, the Trailblazers won the Division 2 championship but lost their chance to be in the Division 1 playoffs by losing three of their first four games and dropping too far in the CalPreps.com rankings to recover. Their first game last week was a 9-7 revenge win over San Juan Capistrano JSerra, a solid Trinity League team. Still to come is the biggest game for seeding purposes, a showdown against Orange Lutheran on Sept. 15 at Orange Coast College.
There’s no reason the Trailblazers can’t keep getting better. Their only problem Friday happened at the outset of the second quarter when three offensive linemen delayed the start of quarter because they weren’t wearing their mouthpieces, forcing Ellinghouse to call a timeout as three big linemen with mouthpieces replaced three big linemen without mouthpieces.
“That was insane,” Becker said.
Expect the linemen to be doing some running drills Monday. “Oh yeah,” Ellinghouse said.