Golden Valley wildcat offense keeping defenses on their heels

Golden Valley's Jalin Lewis runs up the field during a 46-yard touchdown rush in the team's 38-0 win over Canyon. Cory Pitkavish/For the Signal

When Golden Valley kicks off Friday at Nipomo in the first round of the playoffs, it will do so with its highest-ever postseason seed in school history – No. 2 in Division 6.

The Grizzlies will also kick off with possibly the most dynamic offense in the division, spearheaded by a wildcat formation featuring USC commit DeGabriel Floyd under center.

While the ball is snapped directly to Floyd’s hands in the Grizzlies’ variation of the wildcat, it certainly doesn’t always end that way.

Golden Valley has utilized weapons like Jalin Lewis, Ahvie Harris and DJ Turner, along with Floyd, to keep teams on their heels down the stretch in Foothill League play. After dropping its first two league games, with Floyd working his way back from injury, the team won two of its final three games.

The only loss came in a last-minute defeat to Hart two weeks ago.

“The wildcat definitely gives defenses another thing to worry about,” said Grizzlies coach Dan Kelley. “Having that at our disposal has kind of jumpstarted the offense.”

The Grizzlies have capitalized on the versatility that comes with a wildcat formation.

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Floyd has rushed for four touchdowns while adding a receiving and passing touchdown over the last three weeks. Lewis has provided speed off the edge, rushing for three touchdowns with two touchdown receptions in that span.

For as electric as the wildcat offense has been, Kelley was quick to establish the team’s confidence in its base offense led by junior quarterback Zack Chevalier.

The base offense shined in the team’s victory over West Ranch in its regular-season finale. Chevalier completed 16 of 24 pass for 229 yards and two touchdowns to no interceptions.

“(Chevalier) had a solid game last week but we’ve had that confidence in our base offense all along,” Kelley said. “It kind of just adds to the list of things that  defense has to prepare for.”

Golden Valley’s DeGabriel Floyd (1) avoids a tackle by Highland’s Robert Jones during the Grizzlies’ first football game of the season at Canyon High School on Friday, August 25, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Turner has flourished no matter the formation of late, rushing for 93 yards on just 15 carries in the win over West Ranch. He’s rushed for 90-plus yards in each of the last three weeks.

The Grizzlies favored opening in the wildcat through the regular season’s final stretch, doing so in their 38-0 win over Canyon and loss to Hart.

With Paraclete moving up to Division 5, Bishop Diego (9-1, Tri-City League) stands as the only team seeded higher in Division 6. In their first-ever postseason trip last season, the Grizzlies advanced to the Division 7 semifinals.

“Obviously, we feel like we’re in a pretty great spot right now,” Kelley said. “But that seed has way more meaning on paper. It’s not going to matter if we don’t take care of our business.”

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