The number rhymes with great, which is the appropriate word when talking about Canyon High's football program. The Cowboys rode tall this past season, winning their third straight Northwestern Conference championship.
For the second straight season, the Cowboys were 14-0. Their winning streak is now 38 games, eight shy of the all-time Southern Section record.
Canyon's defense, led by standout performers Randy Austin and Joe Zacharia, recorded six shutouts and gave up only 58 points. The Cowboys averaged 30.4 points a game.
Yet the streak, the undefeated season and the bragging rights in the Santa Clarita Valley came within inches of disappearing.
In the season's opener against Hart, Canyon led, 6-3, but the Indians had the ball at the Canyon eight-yard line with time running out. Hart Coach Rick Scott disdained a field goal and a tie and went for the win.
Quarterback Jim Bonds rolled to his right and headed for the end zone. Bonds was stopped inches short of the goal-line as the game ended.
Canyon rolled over the rest of its opponents--until it reached the final against Antelope Valley. In the final game of the regular season, Canyon had crushed Antelope Valley, 30-6. But in the process, the Cowboys lost quarterback John Watkins to a broken left wrist.
With Ken Sollom at quarterback, Coach Harry Welch's team outscored its first three playoff opponents, 118-13. In the rematch with Antelope Valley, the Cowboys inexplicably struggled, barely holding on for a 9-7 win.
Welch was upset with his team's play and the postgame celebration was rather subdued. Still, as the fourth-year coach said, "We're 38-0. Who else can say that?"
Canyon was also the only Valley team that could say it was a football champion, although several others came close.
Hart started the season ranked No. 1 in the Coastal Conference. But after losing to Canyon, the Indians lost to Santa Barbara and Alemany, then played to a humiliating 0-0 tie with lowly Saugus.
"It was like watching two lepers rot," Scott said after the Saugus game.
But Hart made a dramatic turnaround and won its next nine games, including all five of its Foothill League games. The Indians reached the Coastal Conference title game, along the way defeating Santa Barbara, 24-17, in a quarterfinal game marred by a five-minute brawl at the end.
In the championship game, the Indians could not contend with Muir's speed and lost to the Mustangs, 28-14.
Harvard's season was similar to Hart's. The Saracens lost four of their first five games but used a string of upsets to reach the Desert-Mountain Conference championship game against Leuzinger. Harvard's dream of a title turned into a disaster, as the Olympians pounded out a 39-17 win on a cold Saturday night at Valley College.
That same evening in the small town of Tehachapi, Montclair Prep played for the Inland Conference championship. The Mounties were as cold as the freezing temperatures, losing to Tehachapi, 17-7. Still, it was a remarkable season for the Mounties, whose mammoth lineman, 6-8, 270-pound Todd Bowser, quit football in the middle of the season to concentrate on basketball.
Faith Baptist brought a 23-game winning streak into the eight-man championship game against Templeton. Faith Baptist had won the title the previous year by beating Templeton. And in an earlier regular season game, the Contenders had swamped Templeton, 52-0. So, naturally, Templeton won the title game, 26-7.
In the City Section, Chatsworth came the closest of any Valley team to winning a championship. The Chancellors reached the 3-A final, only to be run over by undefeated Fairfax, 27-0.
Darryl Stroh, for 16 seasons the baseball coach at Granada Hills, took over the football program and led the Highlanders to victories in their first seven games.
But against San Fernando with the Valley 4-A League title on the line, the Highlanders were no match for the hungry Tigers. San Fernando routed Granada Hills, 40-12, to win the league. San Fernando then became the only 4-A Division team in the Valley to win a playoff game when it defeated Gardena, 13-10, in the opening round.
The Tigers then took on Banning in the semifinals and became the 21st straight Valley team to lose to the Pilots when they fell, 28-9. Banning went on to win another championship.
En route to its second straight Southern Section 3-A boys championship, Saugus caught its opposition in a collective double-take behind the performances of identical twins Daren and Kirk Stonerock. Daren finished first at the finals, while Kirk was second.
Simi Valley won the boys 4-A title behind the strong performance of Jim Zimmer, who finished fourth at the finals.
Melissa Sutton of Newbury Park won her second straight Southern Section 4-A individual championship, while the Thousand Oaks' girls team placed second in the same division.