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Golden Valley ends 17-game losing streak

Grizzlies snap 17-game skid with win over Granada Hills

Posted: August 30, 2013 11:32 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2013 11:32 p.m.

Golden Valley players celebrate after Malik Young (21) returned a blocked punt for a touchdown at Canyon High on Friday.

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Golden Valley Grizzlies head football coach Robert Fisher was candid following his team’s season-opening 34-28 victory over the Granada Hills Charter High School Highlanders at Canyon High School on Friday night.

“We have a lot to clean up, but still, a win is a win,” Fisher said.

But for a program that has been all but defined by its nearly two-year-long winless streak, it’s hard to imagine that the victory didn’t mean something a little more special to fans, coaches and players alike.

With the victory, Golden Valley ended a 17-game losing streak that dated back to a 17-10 win over Channel Islands on Sept. 23, 2011.

“For us, our character transformation started the minute the offseason began,” said Grizzlies senior quarterback Robert Phillips, who went 5-10 for 102 yards and an interception.

That transformation of character manifested itself on the field, where the fired-up Grizzlies (1-0) rode a wave of explosive plays to 34 points, a welcome sign for a program that averaged just a touchdown a game a season ago.

Golden Valley senior running back Terry Tamura was the catalyst, opening the scoring with a 69-yard touchdown run with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter for the game’s first touchdown before barreling into the end zone again in the second quarter to give the Grizzlies a 20-7 advantage over Granada Hills at the break. Tamura finished the game with 234 all-purpose yards.

On offense, the Highlanders more than held their own, as standout running back Xavier Salazar ran all over the Golden Valley defense for 144 yards and a touchdown.

Granada Hills (0-1) even outgained the Grizzlies by more than 100 yards, but big plays on defense and special teams proved to be the difference.

Grizzlies receiver Malik Young returned a blocked punt 46 yards for a touchdown in the first half. In a bizarre but entertaining sequence of events, his teammate, interior lineman Demetri Mansori, scored the first two touchdowns of his football career in the second half. The first was a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown, the second 1-yard run at the goal line that capped a one-play drive following a 99-yard kickoff return by Tamura.

“We knew this team was going to be a challenge. Every team in the (CIF) Southern Section is a challenge,” said Granada Hills head coach Billy Parra.

If Friday night’s game is any gauge, Golden Valley believes it can challenge anybody too.

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