It was one of the brightest storylines in all of Santa Clarita Valley sports this year, so it only seemed right to begin a review of Golden Valley with the school’s football team.
The Grizzlies made the playoffs for the first time in program history this year. That in and of itself would have been a feat to remember.
Then, of course, Golden Valley narrowly got by Ayala of Chino Hills in the first round. Again, that would have been a nice ending to the year.
But, the Grizzlies weren’t done.
Golden Valley stomped El Segundo, 28-7, to advance to the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 semifinals, where, frankly, the Grizzlies slammed eventual-champion San Gorgonio of San Bernardino up against the ropes.
But, CIF title or no CIF title (the Grizzlies lost 39-35 in the semis), Golden Valley football sent good vibes throughout a school that’s too often been unfairly judged.
Here’s to those vibes reverberating for years to come.
While no other sports team from the school made a playoff appearance this year, there were certainly other highlights.
The softball team featured two of the Foothill League’s best players in junior Cassidy Cangemi and sophomore Sophia Medellin.
Cangemi gave Golden Valley a chance in every game with her pitching, and both Cangemi’s and Medellin’s bats put fear into opposing pitchers.
Shyann Franklin remained among the league’s best throwers with her work in discus and shot put. She finished first at league finals in the latter, and will be a factor at the league and CIF level for the next two years.
On the boys side, Gabriel Coronado made a trip to state in the discus (after proving to be a very accurate place kicker in football).
The basketball team looked headed for a first Foothill League title since 2010. The team sprinted to a 3-0 start in the Foothill League behind talented players like sophomore Richard Kawakami and seniors Milan Taylor and Josh Jehnings. However, the Grizzlies lost six of their last seven league games to miss the postseason.
The baseball team missed the playoffs, too. But the season had a different feel than in years past. Rival Foothill League coaches said it before league play began: The Grizzlies were not to be taken lightly.
Coach Steve Lombardi resigned after the season, so it will be important that the team’s next coach build on this season’s momentum, a commodity the Grizzlies seem to have a lot of these days.
The Grizzlies went where no team in program history had gone before, making their first-ever playoff appearance and then advancing to the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 semifinals.
Golden Valley fielded one of the Foothill League’s most talented teams. But after a 3-0 start to league, the Grizzlies finished just 1-6 down the stretch.
The culture of Grizzly softball continued to change for the better. Golden Valley won 12 games overall, and three of its seven league losses came by two runs or less.
The Grizzlies might have won only eight games, but they were markedly improved. It was not a team to be taken lightly, even in the brutally tough Foothill League.
The year didn’t end the way the Grizzlies would have wanted it to, but they put together a very nice run through their first seven games, going 4-1-2.
Lewis was explosive as a junior. No two ways about it. He broke GV’s single-season program records for catches (67), touchdown grabs (11) and receiving yards (1,122).
Another Grizzly record-breaker, Maduike bested the school’s single-season mark for rushing yards in a season (with 1,412) and rushing touchdowns (with 13).
The sophomore forward was unstoppable at times this season. He averaged 15. 2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists on the year.
Coronado was both a kicker and a thrower. In football, he handled PATs and field goals, making 7-of-10 field goals. In track and field, he earned a state meet berth in discus.
Yes, more football. Golden Valley’s play positively impacted the school’s spirit, and Anthony was a big factor on the gridiron. He finished with 150 total tackles, a program single-season record.
The junior got it done on offense and defense as well as anyone in the Foothill League this year. She owned a 2.30 ERA with close to 200 strikeouts and a .397 batting average.
When it comes to power threats to watch over the next couple years, look no further than this shortstop. Medellin hit .400 with five homers and 18 RBIs as a sophomore.
In addition to her work on the soccer field, Gunn finished third in the 100-meter hurdles at Foothill League finals with a time of 16.49 seconds. She finished fourth in the 300 hurdles.
Tyus was a dynamic scoring threat for the Grizzlies, averaging 14.7 points a night during her senior campaign.
Franklin finished first in shot put and third in discus at league finals. She finished eighth in shot put and 12th in discus at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet.
The Grizzlies’ magical run finally ended in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 semifinals. But the 39-35 loss to eventual-champion San Gorgonio of San Bernardino hardly marred a spectacular year. Golden Valley might even have a better team in 2017, though.