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Prep football: Still on the ground level

Mistakes prove costly as Golden Valley starts with a loss

Posted: September 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Golden Valley defensive back Christian Lozano (22) upends Simi Valley wide receiver Eric Pinkston (8) at Canyon High on Friday night. Golden Valley defensive back Isa Bey (11) looks on.

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The Simi Valley defense did little wrong Friday night, while the Golden Valley defensive side struggled from the onset, as the Pioneers defeated the Grizzlies 45-14 at Canyon High School.

What was billed as an even match up turned ugly early, as third-year Pioneer quarterback Jake Maranto hit wide receiver MJ Nelson for a 34-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game.

Both teams entered with a seasoned starting quarterback in Maranto and the Grizzlies’ Reid Soliman, and a new head coach, in Simi Valley’s Ryan Taggart and Golden Valley’s Robert Fisher.

During the teams’ openers, though, the similarities ended there.

The Grizzlies struggled all night, making numerous mental mistakes, such as taking the field with only 10 men numerous times, and finishing the game with eight penalties for 52 yards.

“I was surprised by a lot of things,” Fisher said. “We were very prepared. We had a great week of practice and a different team showed up tonight. The team that was here tonight was not the team that practiced all week. We have a lot of mistakes to correct and that will happen as soon as possible.”

Soliman, starting wide receiver Isa Bey and starting running back Earl Johnson did their best to help the Grizzlies solve their problems during the game, though, as Soliman finished 14-of-28 with 217 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and Bey had five receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson ran for 88 yards on 16 carries, but lost a costly fumble in the second quarter when the Grizzlies trailed 24-7. This was one snap after he exploded for a 43-yard carry to take the ball to the Pioneer 37-yard line.

The fumble led to Simi Valley’s fourth passing touchdown of the first half, as Maranto hit tight end Jordan Thiel for a 21-yard scoring pass in the back of the end zone to take a 31-7 lead with 6:44 remaining in the second quarter.

Thiel led the Pioneers with eight catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns coming on back-to-back receptions in the second quarter.

Maranto finished 14-of-18 for 151 yards and four touchdowns, despite playing his last snap of the game at the 6:44 mark of the second quarter.

“This is the first time Simi’s come out and put that many points up on the board, and that’s the first time I’ve ever been able to sit out in a game,” Maranto said. “Our team played amazing. My line did an incredible job, and we all came out fired up.”

The Grizzlies defense started to show life in the second half, as they held the Pioneers scoreless in the third frame.

After giving up a short field on a blocked punt to start the fourth quarter, though, the Grizzlies surrendered a 7-yard touchdown run to Eric Pinkston to stretch the Simi Valley lead to 45-7 with 10:41 to play in the fourth quarter.

Two possessions later Golden Valley responded by closing out the game with a one-play drive that saw Soliman hit wide receiver Aaron Kinard for a 30-yard touchdown pass with two minutes to play.

Again, though, the Grizzlies were penalized for having only 10 men on the field during the point-after-touchdown attempt.
Due to the high school mercy rule, the clock continued to run, and the point after the kick pulled them within 45-14.

Now, Golden Valley will look to turn the page on week one and focus on fixing the issues that plagued it in the loss, as they prepare for Royal High next Friday.

“We’ve just got to go on Monday and start working,” Soliman said. “Go into film, learn from our mistakes, move on.”

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