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Golden Valley football airing it out

Posted: August 22, 2014 10:39 p.m.
Updated: August 22, 2014 10:39 p.m.

Golden Valley quarterback Erik Zarate rolls out to his left as he looks to pass in the Grizzlies' new spread offense during a practice at Golden Valley High on August 20. Zarate will have plenty of options when he drops back as Golden Valley's group of receivers could run 10 deep. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Things are going to look a little bit different around Golden Valley this season.

And a lot of the reason why lies in the hands of a group of wide receivers that could be as many as 10 men deep.

“Right now we’re running four wide and we are platooning three strings of guys,” says first year head coach Dan Kelly.

The Grizzlies have maneuvered over from a run-first offense to a spread under Kelly, and the wide receiving corps is now a focal point of Golden Valley practices.

“That’s all we’ve been working on,” Kelly said. “We work receiver circuits all the time. They rotate from different stations and we’re constantly throwing balls at them.”

The players say Kelly focused on their development all summer, and has been quick to jump in and work directly with the wide outs.

“Coach has been helping us on our routes, how to break down and sprint out of them and all that,” said junior wide receiver Will Lahn.

It’s a new experience for some of the more veteran Grizzlies wideouts.

“It’s a very different system,” says senior wide receiver Dominic Fernandez. “Last year we had a lot of short routes, little deep routes. This year, it’s more spread out around the field, it’s less in the middle. I enjoy the spread offense a lot more than, I dont even know what we called the offense last year.”

But it’s not all fun and games.

With so many guys competing for a finite number of starting spots, competition has been fierce.

“It works out,” said senior Nash Soliman, whose brother Reid was a former starting quarterback at the school. “Honestly, you can’t have great players without competition.”

It also gives Kelly options, something Golden Valley has struggled with in recent years due to low roster numbers.

“I think it keeps you fresh,” Kelly said. “It gives you options. Maybe one guy isn’t doing that job in a game and you can get someone else in there that gives you that look you want. It brings that competitiveness at that position.”

Soliman said the new offense is not only exciting to the players, but it has given the team added belief that it can be successful.

How successful is the question?

The Grizzlies have yet to win a Foothill League game in program history, and in a league that features high-octane passing offenses at the majority of its schools, the Grizzlies are certainly playing catch up when it comes to the spread.

“If we are able to pass the ball, we’re going to win games,” Soliman said. “Of course you have to run the ball, but when it comes down to it, if we are throwing the ball it will make our offense that much more diverse. I think we’re going to be the biggest surprise (in the league) this year. When we come out we’re going to be moving the ball.”

While a number of guys are in the mix at the position, with 18 listed as wide receivers on the roster, a handful have begun to emerge as the top group.

The Grizzlies won’t feature a go-to guy like Hart has in Trent Irwin or Valencia has in Jay Jay Wilson, but Golden Valley does have a strong set of possession guys with strong hands.

Soliman, Lahn and Fernandez will be joined by wideouts such as Elijah McCormick and Julian Torres, who have caught Kelly’s eye this offseason.

Hearing the Grizzlies discuss their new passing attack, it’s hard not to wonder what Golden Valley could have done in the past with this offense. And that’s something Soliman said he’s often mentioned to his brother, who quarterbacked the school in 2010 and 2011.

But at the end of the day, Golden Valley is focused on looking ahead, and changing its fortunes through a new-look aerial attack.

“I’ve been around this program every season they’ve played,” Soliman said. “Of course I think about the past. I wish they had this opportunity, but you’ve got to look forward. We’ve had nothing but negativity for the last decade, and we’ve worked so hard for this. We went through struggles to get here.”


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