Stanley cousins lift Granada Hills to season-opening shutout over Arleta

For just one play, things were perfect, and Arleta coach Bill Coan pumped his fist

Dijon Stanley caught the opening kickoff, met a wall of Arleta defenders, attempted to shake and bake and backtrack all the way to the opposite sideline — and tripped flat on his face.

“Yes!” Coan said with an exaggerated grin. “The grass got him!”

It was a sigh of relief that at least something could bring down Stanley, a 6-foot-1 Granada Hills senior running back. It was a bit of déjà vu — Arleta trying to stop Stanley in its first game of the season for the second year in a row, getting drubbed by Granada Hills in 2021. Perhaps with that fluke first play, things would be different this time.

Never mind.

On Granada Hills’ first play from scrimmage, Stanley broke straight through the middle for a 56-yard touchdown run. And nobody found an answer to slow him or other Granada Hills backs in a 54-0 rout Friday afternoon.

“Y’all see that?” one player on Arleta’s sideline said, turning to the crowd behind him.

In fairness, it was difficult to keep track of Stanley. Blink for a moment and he was bursting through the line of scrimmage for another long run. With Granada Hills leading 42-0, he fielded a third-quarter punt and whizzed down the sideline, shedding a defender for a 70-yard touchdown return.

“I don’t know how we’re going to stop that back,” Coan had said Friday morning.

His plan was to try to keep Stanley from breaking to the outside, and stack defenders at the line of scrimmage.

It simply didn’t work. Then again, not much has worked in trying to contain him during his career. The Utah commit finished with more than 170 yards in only eight carries and scored three touchdowns.

“The bigger the moment,” Granada Hills coach Bucky Brooks said, “the more he’s able to dig down deep and pull out his best performances.”

It wasn’t just Stanley, though mostly it was. Another Stanley emerged as a potential standout for Granada Hills. Dijon’s cousin, Darrell, is a slightly shorter sophomore who sports the same wiry frame and slithery speed. Brooks was adamant that Granada Hills’ double-wing offense wasn’t just a one-man show, and Darrell proved that with nearly 150 yards rushing and a pair of scores.

The cousins had never played on the same team, but now, they’re finally trading touches in the same backfield. City Section beware.

“Show that Stanley-Stanley power,” Dijon said postgame, fist-bumping Darrell.