Despite the presence of two of the nation’s top high school football quarterbacks (Valencia’s Michael Herrick and Hart’s Tyler Lyon), the 2005 Foothill League season is turning into the Year of the Running Back. Canyon’s J.J. DiLuigi, Valencia’s Shane Vereen and Burroughs’ Thomas Kyle are closing in on perhaps the most productive all-time seasons for a running back at their respective schools, and Hart’s Delano Howell and Burbank’s Marcus Hood are also coming on strong. DiLuigi, a 5-foot-9, 174-pound junior, came through with one of the greatest single-game performances in area history Friday, scoring a school-record six touchdowns – four from 34 yards or longer – and a two-point conversion in a 55-7 victory over Saugus at College of the Canyons. DiLuigi rushed for 184 yards on 13 carries, caught two passes for 94 yards, and scored on runs of 40, 36, 1 and 19 yards and a 70-yard reception. He also nearly scored on a 75-yard kickoff return. “It felt great. It was just a lot of fun,” DiLuigi said. Kyle, a three-year starter, broke Burroughs’ career rushing record two weeks ago. He’s coming off his sixth 100-yard rushing performance of the season in a loss to Hart on Friday, and in seven games he’s rushed for 825 yards, caught 15 passes and scored nine of Burroughs’ 18 touchdowns. Kyle is also a returning all-league cornerback. Howell, a touted sophomore, got off to a slow start because of a recurring ankle injury but has blossomed over the past two games with consecutive 100-yard performances. He ran for a career-best 126 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 52 yards Friday against Burroughs, giving him 440 yards, seven receptions and six touchdowns in limited minutes. Hood, a junior transfer from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, has rushed for 766 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s on pace to become Burbank’s first 1,000-yard rusher in many years. Burbank assistant football coach Tim Loock, who oversees the receivers, had to feel good about Jason McNeil’s school-record 15 receptions against Canyon nine days ago – except for one thing: It just so happened to be Loock who held Burbank’s previous record of 12, set in 1977. Kelly O’Linn, a former Saugus High girls’ basketball standout, has joined the women’s team at College of the Canyons. Saugus teammate Megan Mattivi has also joined the Cougars, who finished 16-12 and lost in the first round of the playoffs last winter. College of the Canyons’ only returning player is Janette Galindo (Burroughs High). Nevertheless, coach Greg Herrick is excited about this year’s young team because there are so many talented shooters. “It’s the best shooting team I’ve ever had. We can score from anywhere,” Herrick said. Among the key freshmen are Melissa Tachins (Poly of Sun Valley), Leslie Ortiz (Sylmar) and Samantha Gossard (Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks). The Threat, a local 14-under girls’ soccer team coached by Valencia High boys’ basketball co-head coach Greg Hayes, plays at UCLA’s Drake Stadium during halftime of the Bruins’ game against Washington State today at 1 p.m. Hayes’ team is participating as part of UCLA’s annual AYSO Day. It’s been a good week for Valencia High’s Teddy Goetz. He verbally committed to a UCLA volleyball scholarship on Tuesday, then donned a snazzy white tuxedo to participate in the homecoming court ceremony during halftime of Valencia’s football game on Friday. Gerry Gittelson’s column appears in the Daily News three times a week. He can be reached at (661) 257-5218 or [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week DiLuigi has a good shot at breaking several Canyon single-season records. In seven games, DiLuigi has rushed for 956 yards, caught 10 passes for an average of 26.4 yards per reception, and scored 26 touchdowns – an average of nearly four per game. He’s also averaging 43.5 yards on kick returns, including a 99-yard touchdown. “I’m having a blast. I thought I might have a lot of yards this year but not this many touchdowns,” DiLuigi said. “I guess it has went the other way around, but I’m fine with it.” A year ago, DiLuigi rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and scored 26 touchdowns to carry Canyon’s junior varsity team to a 10-0 record. He’s following in the footsteps of Canyon’s past two starting running backs, Justin Williams and Louis Montano, both of whom earned All-Southern Section Div. II honors. DiLuigi could break Montano’s 2003 school single-season rushing record of 1,596 yards and Chris Perry’s 1989 single-season touchdown record of 27. Vereen, a returning junior, has proved equally effective. In a 42-3 victory over Burbank on Friday, he rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes. Through seven games, the 5-11, 171-pounder has rushed for 1,000 yards, caught 33 passes and scored 18 touchdowns for a team that relies mostly on Herrick’s passing.