Top-10 ranked Granada Hills routes Taft 64-22 in West Valley League clash

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Ranked 7th in L.A. City Section, the Granada Hills Highlanders were seeking their fifth win in their last six games. Following their first league win last week over Cleveland 40-21, the Highlanders traveled to Woodland Hills to face the struggling 2-5 Taft Toreadors on Friday, October 13th, 2023. On the last home game for Taft, their Senior Night, Granada Hills took control of the contest early by jumping out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter. Their versatile running-back-by-committee approach on offense combined with their defensive control of the line of scrimmage paved the way for a 64-22 blowout victory. The Highlanders improved to 2-1 in the West Valley League, while the Toreadors remain winless.

The Highlanders got off to a hot start in the first quarter powered by their strong defense & power running game. After a 252 yard, 5 touchdown performance from the Highlanders rushing attack last week, junior team captain Darrell Stanley started the game with a 60 yard touchdown run to put them ahead 8-0 after a successful 2-point conversion. The defense put pressure on Taft senior quarterback Devon Conroy, forcing a turnover on downs on the Toreadors’ first two possessions. The second touchdown of the night for the Highlanders came courtesy of sophomore Jesse Hughes, as he ripped off a 44-yard run to extend the lead to 16-0. Stanley closed the quarter by adding his second touchdown of the night to give Granada Hills a 24-0 advantage.

Taft drove the ball into the end zone early in the second quarter on a 17-yard quarterback scramble from Conroy to cut the deficit to 24-8. Hughes responded by returning the subsequent kickoff back deep into Taft territory with the help of a penalty. Senior running back Kanye Martin powered in a 25-yard touchdown run on the next play to make it a 30-8 advantage for the Highlanders. Freshman Pharell Stanley later added to the onslaught on the ground with a 23-yard touchdown push the lead to 36-8.

The Toreadors attempted to rally when senior team captain Michael Mansaray took a short reception into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown to close the gap to 36-16. Not to be outdone, Darrell Stanley added his third rushing touchdown of the night with a 57-yard run to curtail any comeback hopes for Taft. The versatile multi-headed monster of the Highlanders ground game was capped off by a 30-yard touchdown run from junior team captain Nasir Enilolobo for their seventh score of the first half. The Highlanders built on the 50-16 halftime lead with two more touchdowns in the second half, with the defense only allowing a 80-yard touchdown reception to Taft junior Ledgend Wilson.

Granada Hills Assistant Coach Justin Berenson praised his team's ability to control the clock with their rushing attack in the 64-22 win. He states, “This was probably our best overall offensive game. Our offensive line really came together, running backs did a really good job of hitting the hole”. Berenson alluded to the coaching staff adding new concepts on the defensive side of the ball to contain the mobility of Conroy. With two league games remaining, the Highlanders will look to close the season strong, as they return home on Friday to face El Camino Real. 

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