By Grant Gordon
For The Signal
It has been an arduous start to the season for the Golden Valley High football team and it was an arduous start to its game Friday night against visiting Crespi.
However, the Grizzlies overcame a 14-point first-quarter stalemate before a clutch 24-yard touchdown grab by Johnathan Kaelin from Zack Chevalier led Golden Valley its first win of the season, 21-14, in overtime against the Celts at Canyon High.
“It’s a credit to the kids,” Grizzlies coach Dan Kelley said after his team improved to 1-3. “We’ve known all along we have talented football players on this team. “The kids wanted it and they wanted it bad.”
On the opening kickoff, Miles Robinson scored on a 92-yard return and another touchdown followed for the Celts (2-2), propelling them to a 14-0 lead before the midway point of the first quarter.
But the Grizzlies methodically marched back, with Kaelin scoring three touchdowns, two on short-yardage runs and the last on the first possession of overtime.
“We stayed within ourselves,” Kaelin, who had five catches for 121 yards, said of rebounding from the auspicious start. “We always had the mindset that we play until the clock hits zero.”
On this night, the Grizzlies played beyond zeros on the clock.
Tied at 14 heading into the locker room at halftime, the stalemate carried into overtime. After some confusion between the officials and both sidelines, the game continued into overtime.
Golden Valley had the ball first and on third and 9, Chevalier scrambled and lofted a ball to the right side for Kaelin.
“Throw it up to your best player and Johnny has the ability,” Kelley said. “Zack threw a great pass to him that he could go get.”
Routed in its first two games before a close loss to Fullerton last week, the Grizzlies responded on Friday, particularly on the defensive end.
Crespi running back Michael Shirley scored on a 43-yard reception for a 14-0 lead with 7:43 to go, but the Grizzlies’ defense held the Celts scoreless thereafter and to just 233 total yards for the game.
“We just worked very hard,” Kaelin said. “We talked in the huddle that we can’t let them score again.”
Kaelin scored on a two-yard push with 8:53 left in the first half and again on a one-yard run with 1:20 to go in the half.
Grizzlies running back Christopher Alcantar had 85 yards rushing in 18 attempts and the Grizzlies had three takeaways (interceptions by Chris Mendoza and Breydon Simmons and a fumble recovery by Zachary Perez) and two big sacks late from Daniel Morales and Hunter McMahon.
The Grizzlies defense held strong in overtime allowing just six yards by the Celts, who saw an incomplete pass on fourth down send Golden Valley to a victory celebration for the first time this year, ending a four-game losing streak that extended to last season’s loss in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 title game.