By Jacob Hirsohn
For The Signal
Golden Valley came into Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinals with two clear choices: beat Fountain Valley, and return to the semifinals, where they fell last season, or lose and fall short of their championship aspirations.
The Grizzlies achieved the former, beating the Barons 41-14 at Canyon High School.
Halfway through the second quarter, both options were clearly on the table. Following a dominant victory where the Grizzlies held the Nipomo offense to two points, the Golden Valley defense was struggling to stop the Barons offense, and was staring at a one-point Fountain Valley lead.
After trading fumbles and turnovers on downs, both offenses broke through. The Grizzlies scored on a recovered-forward-fumble by running back DJ Turner. Fountain Valley responded with an impressive touchdown drive.
But when the Grizzlies got the ball back, they struck immediately with a 64-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Chevalier to wide receiver Ahvie Harris.
The offense continued from there, with another touchdown from the Barons, and another from the Grizzlies, followed by a missed extra point. With seven minutes left in the half, the Barons were up 14-13. That was the last lead they would hold.
After giving up two early touchdowns, Golden Valley’s defense completely took over the affair, with Fountain Valley quarterback Nick Welch facing constant pressure.
Golden Valley coach Dan Kelley said of his defense: “Guys come out with nervous energy and need to settle down. Once we did that, I think we did a great job of containing (Welch) and made some great plays on defense.”
With the Grizzlies clicking on that side of the ball, their running attack was able to take over on offense, with Turner and fellow running back Aidan Baptiste combining for four touchdowns.
The Barons had one last shot to make it a game. Down 35-14 with six minutes left in the third quarter, Welch hit a wide-open receiver in the end zone after scrambling away from pressure. The ball was dropped, and the game was effectively over for Fountain Valley.