This past Sunday, the Golden Valley High football team’s fingers were glued to the “refresh” button on phones and computers, waiting to see if they were going to be in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
After many page reloads, the Grizzlies found themselves in the bracket. For the first time in program history.
“When I found out, I had goosebumps,” said Grizzlies running back KJ Maduike.
“(We were) waiting, waiting for it to happen, and when it did, we were like, ‘OK, what’s the team?’ We started watching film. Our coaches usually break down the film, but we were the ones to do it because we were so excited.”
Golden Valley (6-4), which made the postseason with an at-large bid, will face Ayala High of Chino Hills, champion of the Palomares League.
Ayala (6-4) has a freshman quarterback, Cole McCain, who has completed 128-of-217 passes for 1,288 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs have a strong run game, too. Brothers Mason (942 yards, 10 TDs) and Max Hura (473, three TDs) share carries and have a knack for shedding defenders. Golden Valley linebackers Darius Anthony (118 tackles) and Ray Ibrahim (45 tackles) and the rest of the Grizzlies defense will have their hands full.
“We’re going to go out and get a good defensive strategy going,” Ibrahim said. “We’re going to play our hearts out and hopefully come out with a ‘W.’”
The Bulldogs defense has held opponents to a touchdown or less in five of their 10 games.
Linebacker Josh Zavosky (78 tackles) and corners Emmanuel Flowers and Moses Sanchez are all dangerous. Maduike believes the GV offensive line will be the bedrock of offensive progress.
“I always talk to my O-line before a play,” he said. “I say, ‘All right, we can get this. Let’s get this touchdown. Let’s get this first down.’ They’re like, ‘OK, anything for you.’”
That line has helped Maduike surpass the 1,000 mark this season. Currently, he’s at 1,126 with 10 touchdowns. He needs 267 more yards to beat Earl Johnson’s 2011 single-season record.
The Grizzlies went 4-1 in preleague, then won two games, for the second straight year, in the competitive Foothill League. A playoff appearance is just one more accomplishment to add to the list.
“Everybody is really excited,” Ibrahim said. “This has never happened before and there’s a different kind of energy going on throughout the school and the community, throughout the whole team. We’re just really excited to see what’s next.”