Golden Valley senior Johnathan Kaelin reaches over the goal line in the second quarter of a non-league matchup with Burbank at Harry Welch Stadium. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Grizzlies ready for the challenge against Quartz Hill

Last season the Golden Valley Grizzlies football team took two trips to the Antelope Valley and came away with two consecutive losses. This year, things have changed for the best.

The Grizzlies are 1-0 overall after a 43-28 trouncing of Burbank at home to open up the season and this time head north to Quartz Hill with a little bit of payback on their minds.

“It’s a different team,” said Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley. “Every year as a head coach you get different kids and that’s why I think a lot of the coaches jump the gun when they quit and move onto a different program because maybe they didn’t have success, you know? We took last season as a step back, but at the same time we took the offseason as a big step forward. 

“We revamped, kids bought in and we know we were unsuccessful last year, obviously our record showed it. We went against two Antelope Valley teams in Highland and Antelope Valley and our youth showed. We were young, inexperienced and we got beat. We are in a different time right now. We didn’t forget about that and I think that’s what pushed us through his offseason and got us bigger, stronger and more motivated as coaches.” 

Quartz Hill (0-2 overall) began the season the same they started the 2018 campaign with two losses to CIF-SS Division 1/2 Rancho Verde and Division 5 Oxnard both of which are off to perfect starts. 

Relying heavily on the running attack with a 46:24 run to pass ratio through the first two games, the Rebels junior running back Jared Torres leads the team with 23 carries for 47 yards while Ben Weese, Sean Miller and Kamal Shaw have each saw some time carrying the ball.

Returning senior starting quarterback Bryce Dickson threw for 1,235 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games played last season, but is struggling to find his targets to begin the season completing just 11-of-24 passes for 57 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

“It’s hard to really get a feeling of Quartz Hill because they have played two very good football teams in Rancho Verde, who in my opinion is a traditional power, and Oxnard, who is a very physical and talented football team,” Kelley said. “At the same time you never want to look down or past your opponent. Our focus is on Quartz Hill and the things that they are doing, there are things that they do right and there are things that they take advantage of. We have to account for the quarterback and the running game and if we do that I think we will be successful on defense.”

Although, Golden Valley is still in a heated quarterback battle, the offense hasn’t seemed to miss a step forcing 43 points in four quarters this year. Also relying on the running game, senior Johnathan Kaelin is a big reason why the Grizzlies are off to a good start after rushing for 273 yards and two scores on 13 attempts against Burbank.

Running backs Christopher Alcantar and Luke McCoy got in on the action and each scored a rushing touchdown.

“I think it’s our front,” Kelley said about why the rushing attack has been so effective. “Our offensive line is big and physical, but at the same time I think we are a good passing team too. We just took advantage of the situation last week and we ran the ball very well. If Quartz Hill gives us the opportunity, we are going to run the ball. I think we still have a really strong passing game as well. We didn’t have to lean on it as much last week as we may need to this week. 

“If our kids show up, upfront on the offensive line, with the running backs that we have I think we will be successful week in and week out.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Quartz Hill.

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