By Grant Gordon
For The Signal
Across 24 minutes of Foothill League action on Saturday evening, Golden Valley football found itself in a stalemate with Canyon.
That changed as the second half commenced with a methodical Grizzlies drive.
Covering 69 yards, all on runs and culminating with a 31-yard touchdown run to the right from senior standout Johnathan Kaelin, the Grizzlies set the tone, established a dominant rushing attack and pulled away with a 42-28 win over the Cowboys.
“We went in the locker room and talked about our mistakes and came out and we knew exactly what to do,” said Kaelin, whose Grizzlies were tied at 14 going into the half. “We knew exactly what to do.”
All six scores from Golden Valley (7-2 overall, 2-2 in Foothill League), the sixth-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 6, came on the ground with a monster night from Kaelin leading the Grizzlies as they ran roughshod over the Cowboys (2-7, 0-4).
Kaelin had 220 yards rushing in 20 attempts with three touchdowns, as he scored from 41, 31 and 44 yards. Quarterback Luke McCoy added a pair of scores on quarterback sneaks and running back Christopher Alcantar had 18 carries for 74 yards, all of them hard yards it seemed, and a five-yard fourth-quarter touchdown.
It was the Alcantar score that extended Golden Valley’s lead to 21 points, its largest of the game with 3:26 to play, but the Cowboys wouldn’t go silent into the night and made it a closer final.
“Once we settled down, we were able to run the ball the way we thought we would,” Grizzlies coach Dan Kelley said.
In all, Golden Valley ran the ball for 309 yards. Canyon simply couldn’t keep up as it allowed 40 or more points for its fifth straight game, lost its fifth in a row to Golden Valley and dropped its 10th consecutive league game dating back to 2017.
“Story of the season,” Cowboys first-year coach Joe Maiale said of his squad being unable to put together four solid quarters. “We’ve yet to play a complete game.
“It just hasn’t come together.”
For the Cowboys, receiver Reno Sifuentes had six catches for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both from quarterback Aydyn Litz. Running back Dylan Roof also had two scores, both on the ground as he tallied 77 scrimmage yards on 15 touches.
Canyon struck first with a McCoy sneak with 3:37 to go in the opening quarter, but special teams gaffes played into the game staying close.
After forcing a Canyon three-and-out, Golden Valley gave the ball right back on a muffed punt.
Six plays later, Roof scored from six yards on a sweep.
On the ensuing drive, Golden Valley misfired on a 25-yard go-ahead field goal attempt.
Thereafter, Kaelin began his big night when he burst through the left side and ran along the far sideline untouched for a 41-yard score.
Canyon countered with a Litz-to-Sifuentes 21-yard score that led to the 14-14 halftime deadlock.
Then came the second half and the Grizzlies takeover, as they scored 21 straight points, beginning with a 31-yard Kaelin run to paydirt.
“Once you get past the second level, it’s gonna be a big run,” Kelley said. “Eventually it’s gonna pop.”
Golden Valley plays Hart at College of the Canyons on Nov. 1, while Canyon hosts Saugus on the same date. Both games are slated for 7 p.m.