Great defense is a staple of Golden Valley. Last season, the defense as a whole allowed an average of 19.21 points per game.
The defensive prowess almost always starts with a solid defensive line, and the Grizzlies aren’t looking to disappoint this season.
Despite losing 6-foot-5 defensive end CJ Ravenell to graduation, the Grizzlies are confident in seniors like Joseph Salazar and Blake Cruz as well as junior Lendale Cervantes.
“They’ve done a really good job stepping up since we’re, you know, down in experience,” Cervantes said of his senior counterparts. “But thankfully they’ve helped us and mentored us into becoming a pretty good line players. I could always thank Sal and Blake for that.”
Also joining the group is Darnell Musgrove, a transfer from Antelope Valley who began with the Grizzlies about a week ago.
“He’s able to eat up those double teams and get to the backfield pretty fast and I love what he’s brought to the defensive line,” Cervantes said.
Fortunately for Golden Valley, the power of that d-line can be used offensively as well, as most linemen play both ways.
They’ll be tasked with protecting quarterback Zack Chevalier and running back Tyler Walker. He happens to be Musgrove’s cousin.
“Right now I’ll probably give them a 9.5. I really have to trust the o-line right now,” Walker said. “I feel like they’ll allow me as a running back to score or not get me blown up by the linebackers.”
Offensive line coaches Geo Fields and Moosa McClean are embracing the opportunity to shape a new group of lineman nearly from scratch.
As usual, food will be used as motivation. Fields will buy a pizza for any player who records a pancake block in a game. McClean has promised to pitch in with food if the line blocks well and the running back gets at least 300 yards.
Since the official season begins on Aug. 17, a week earlier than last year, the coaches don’t have as much time to drill fundamentals. They’re still confident in the group due to their intellectual and instinctual abilities.
“We got guys that want to come out here and work, they want to come here and play and they accept the coaching that we’re giving them, so it makes it a little bit easier,” McClean said.
“Even though we’re younger, they don’t have much experience at the varsity level, they still are able to take that step and they can … work as hard as they need.”