Looking at this week’s Foothill League football matchup between Golden Valley and Hart, it’s hard to tell who has more momentum coming in.
The Grizzlies (5-3 overall, 1-2 league) earned their first league win of the season last week against Canyon, despite having key players KJ Maduike and Darius Anthony leave the game in the second half with injury. Anthony is scheduled to return tonight, while Maduike is questionable.
“Last week was huge for our program,” said coach Dan Kelley. “Our kids played well. We’re going to ride that wave as far as we can. A lot of kids stepped up last week and filled some spots for some injured players, and it was a total team victory.”
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Hart (6-2, 2-1) has struggled to play a consistent game week to week, but it made progress in a confident 45-7 win over West Ranch last week.
“I needed that kind of confidence booster, just to get me back on track and the whole team really,” said Hart quarterback Nick Moore. “We had kind of a scare against Canyon (the week before).”
And then there’s the emotions of last year’s matchup between the two. The Grizzlies nearly pulled off an upset, but lost 24-21 in double overtime.
“We want to win so badly,” said running back and linebacker Tai Brown. “It’s been on our mind since the very last snap of the game. We just feel that if we work hard, we can win this game. We’re all going to try our hearts out.”
Moore also tore his ACL late in the fourth quarter of that game and missed the last three games of the season, all Hart losses. This year, he has returned at full strength, with 1,476 passing yards and 381 rushing yards, and is ready for another shot at Golden Valley.
“We know that they’re a good football team,” Moore said. “They’re obviously not the Golden Valley of old,” he said. “We know they’re a good team. They have a lot of athletes, and we know what to look for in them. We’re watching a lot of film on them.”
The Grizzlies have proven they are both flexible and strong in the run game. After Maduike left the game, Brown filled in and ran for 81 yards and three touchdowns.
“As a linebacker, you’ve always got to respect run first,” said Indians outside linebacker Nick Soto. “We’re going to work on reading the linemen, looking at their technique. … We’re dangerous because we’ve got a lot of returning seniors and then we’ve got phenomenal juniors stepping up.”
Both the Indians and the Grizzlies, who are ranked second and fourth in league, respectively, need wins to secure peace of mind when it comes to playoffs.
“They know that Golden Valley’s a really good team, and they know what’s at stake in this game,” said Hart coach Mike Herrington. “Week in and week out in the Foothill League, they’re all tough and so they know that and they’re ready to go.”