CHINO HILLS — At halftime Friday, before Golden Valley started moving toward a 14-10 CIF-Southern Section Division 7 playoff win against Ayala High, the first playoff win in program history, the Grizzlies remained on a corner of the field.
The first half was scoreless, and coach Dan Kelley knew something had to be done. And fast.
“My whole thing as a coach is let’s stay out here and we can get our point across out here,” said Kelley, whose team will host El Segundo next Friday in the second round. “Walking three minutes one way and three minutes back takes time away from making adjustments.”
When quarterback Josh Valano (9-of-21, 150 yards) connected with Ray Ibrahim for a 75-yard touchdown on just the second play of the third quarter, it was clear that GV had adjusted.
“Our guys were so amped up we were just not playing like ourselves in the first half,” Kelley said. “I had guys in a power formation asking, ‘Is there a guy in motion?’ At halftime we had to take a deep breath, settle down.”
A 9-yard touchdown run by KJ Maduike (17 carries, 101 yards) followed, but the path to victory in the school’s first-ever playoff appearance wasn’t clear just yet.
The team of running-back-brothers Max and Mason Hura gave the Grizzlies trouble, but a swarming defense held the pair to only one touchdown, scored by Mason with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter.
“We watched a lot of film,” Ibrahim said. “We were really prepared for both of them. We filled our gaps and we did assignment football.”
By the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies had shut down the run game, forcing the Bulldogs to rely on freshman quarterback Cole McCain and their strong offensive line.
However, Ayala was only able to manage a field goal that came with 3:32 left in the game. That was the only scoring to be seen in the fourth quarter.
“We couldn’t even imagine this, that we would get this far,” Ibrahim said. “We played as a team tonight and we really pulled through. Everybody is so excited and we’re going to come back home to the SCV and tell everybody that Golden Valley made their first playoff win.”