Golden Valley hosts Bishop Diego in first CIF final appearance

Golden Valleys Jalin Lewis (11) looks for a gap in Mira Costa's defense during the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 semifinal football game at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/For the Signal

Golden Valley has already enjoyed much of the pomp and circumstance that’s come with a trip to a CIF-Southern Section title game.

On Monday, they were one of 26 teams to attend the CIF-SS Press Luncheon at The Grand Long Beach.

The Grizzlies have also undergone meetings with FOX Sports West producers throughout the week in preparation for their Division 6 championship against Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara, which will be streamed live on Prep Zone.

All that’s left for Golden Valley to do is bring yet another CIF title to the Foothill League — and the first ever for the program — as they host Bishop Diego on Friday night at Canyon.

“It’s an honor just to be here,” said Golden Valley coach Dan Kelley. “You don’t want to just be in it, though. You want to win. It’s the Super Bowl of high school football.”

Golden Valley quarterback Zack Chevalier (18) looks to throw long during the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 semifinal football game at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/For the Signal

Golden Valley (8-5) would surely like to forget its 17-0 loss to Saugus to open Foothill League play in early October. But tape from that loss may come in handy as Bishop Diego is coming off a 45-27 win over Saugus in the semifinals.

MORE: How GV went from unknown to CIF title contenders in just 3 years

“Saugus was able to have some success against (Bishop Diego), and we obviously know what they like to do,” Kelley said. “At the same time, I’m sure Bishop Diego is thinking they can use tape from last week to exploit some of our weaknesses.”

Bishop Diego (12-1) running back John Harris exploited Saugus to the tune of 304 yards rushing and three touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

“We’re putting a stop to that,” said senior running back and linebacker DJ Turner. “We’ve watched countless hours of film and we know what we need to do to stop him.”

Harris, who holds an offer to play at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is one of three Bishop Diego running backs to log at least 350 yards on the ground this season. Sophomore Adrian Soracco rushed for 96 yards on 16 carries against Saugus.

The Cardinals attempted just 12 passes to 46 carries in the win, though junior Jake Engel did throw two touchdowns.

“They’re exactly what you want if you’re a running team,” Kelley said. “They have a versatile backfield and a group of quality lineman up front.”

MORE: Golden Valley punches ticket to first-ever CIF title game with win over Mira Costa

Golden Valley got a primer of what it could see Friday in its win over Mira Costa in the semifinals. Mira Costa attempted 21 passes in the loss and featured four different running backs.

Kelley moved USC commit DeGabriel Floyd from the secondary and into a more full-time linebacker role in their second-round win over Fountain Valley. He was second on the team with 10 tackles last week, two coming for a loss. Ahvie Harris had a team-high 12 tackles and also had a receiving touchdown. Floyd had a 69-yard punt return touchdown as well.

“Last week was one of the weirdest games I’ve ever coached, to be honest,” Kelley said. “We had less than a 100 yards passing, a little over 100 yards rushing and we didn’t score in the second half.

“ … Our defense and special teams were really up for the challenge.”

The next challenge will be for Golden Valley to add its first CIF title to its mantle after making the Division 7 semifinals last season — the program’s first playoff appearance. Bishop Diego is the No. 1 seed out of Division 6, with the Grizzlies at No. 2, and finished second in the Tri-Valley League.

NOTES — Kickoff on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. General admission tickets can be purchased for $12, with student and children tickets at $5.

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