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Young programs out to prove themselves

Posted: October 15, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: October 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

The Golden Valley football team has had enough.

“We’ve been put down, kicked, punched and pushed,” said Golden Valley head coach Andy Campbell. “We’re ready to fight back. We’re tired of everybody telling us how bad we are. If you want respect, you have to take it.”

Golden Valley will get its chance in today’s Foothill League opener.

The Grizzlies (0-5) have lost every league game by at least 21 points since joining the league in 2006. The closest loss, a 42-21 setback in the 2007 season finale, came against the team they will host at 7 p.m. today at Canyon High School.

West Ranch (3-2) looks to be much improved, however, and head coach Sean O’Brien said that’s the focus.

“We’re looking inward,” he said. “We don’t ignore what the opponent is trying to do, but we maintain the philosophy that we have to get better ourselves.”

Both teams have question marks after the pre-league season.

Golden Valley went winless during its pre-league run, though the competition was raised a couple notches compared to years past.

Campbell noted that the team has had good success on early downs but can’t seem to put together complete drives on either side of the ball.

“We know that to a man we have to be better than they are,” he said. “The Achilles’ heel throughout preseason is we have two plays with all 11 guys, and then on the third play we have a hole.”

West Ranch, meanwhile, has a winning record entering the league opener, but the overall record of the teams it has beaten is just 5-10.

Still, West Ranch lost by just two points at Hueneme to open the season, a result that seemed bad at the time but has looked better each week with Hueneme getting off to a 4-1 start.

The Wildcats don’t have any statistical standouts, and O’Brien said that fits the mold of his team.

“It’s the nature of what we do,” he said. “We’re very much a team effort, whether it’s offensive ball carriers or spreading it around when we throw. On defense, different positions are making the tackle.”

Golden Valley has been a veritable two-man show so far, as quarterback Andrew Avila leads the team with 301 yards rushing and 63 yards passing.

Running back Joseph Figueroa has 132 yards rushing, and he also leads the defense with 46 total tackles, 24 more than the next-closest teammate.

Those numbers, however, came against improved competition.

“We think it’s an advantage physically,” Campbell said. “In the scheme we’re trying to run, you have to model those teams. The only way to do it is butt heads with them.”

West Ranch quarterback Connor Eichten, who has thrown for 442 yards and six touchdowns, has some weapons at his disposal.

Tailback Zak Snell has 347 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while fullback Trevin Manuel has rushed for 279 yards and five scores.

Tight end James McGough leads the team with 10 catches for 168 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Matt Szymanski also has 10 catches for 149 yards and two scores.

Linebacker Joe Barbosa leads the team with 44 total tackles, and defensive back Matt Bruns has three interceptions.

Both coaches said their players are amped up for the league opener.

“We have a rivalry with Golden Valley,” O’Brien said. “The schools both opened at the same time. Once you get inside the valley, all the kids know each other. They’re looking forward to playing kids they know.”
 

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