By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Golden Valley Grizzlies needed a win Friday night for a chance of a coin flip to decide the third and final playoff spot. Their challenge was answered.
The Grizzlies (3-5, 2-3) beat the Canyon Cowboys (2-6, 0-4) 42-0 on Friday with the fate of their season on the line. With the help of West Ranch beating Hart, the Grizzlies now have their postseason decided thanks to a little luck and doing their job on the field when it mattered most.
“I saw an inspired group of football players that wanted to win and dominate a game,” said Grizzlies head coach Dan Kelley. “I’ve been preaching for that all season and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Everyone got to play tonight. It was a total team victory.”
The Grizzlies came out of the gate early with a 46-yard rushing touchdown by Jared Giles, who would finish the first half with 80 rushing yards on the way to a 21-0 first-half shutout. Quarterback Jaxson Miner would complete only eight passes in the first half, but would finish with 110 passing yards and two goal-line rushing touchdowns on two carries.
Miner would finish the game with 221 passing yards and three total touchdowns.
“They had their safeties too far up so we took advantage of that,” said Miner. “We had a great game as a team but we have to keep going. It’s the best feeling ever knowing that this could be my last game, but knowing that I get to play with these guys one more time for my senior year, it’s the greatest feeling ever.”
The Cowboys had a chance to score, leading a long drive going into the second quarter. Running back Corbett McDaniel would account for 22 rushing yards on the drive of his 84 for the game, but the Grizzlies stopped them on fourth down. The Grizzlies would convert a fourth down conversion of their own to set up the second Miner touchdown, stopping any hope for the Cowboys in the first half.
The Cowboys looked to regroup at halftime, but the game script, which already seemed out of hand, remained the same.
“The kids played their heart out and left it all out on the field. I couldn’t be prouder of them,” said Cowboys head coach Joe Maiale. “You don’t remember the wins and losses, but you remember the people around you on your team. I just want them to enjoy what they had and enjoy each other one last time before getting off the field. They deserve it.”
The Grizzlies came out of the halftime locker room with an interception hauled in by defensive back Ajani Smith. The very next play, Miner hit wide receiver Ryan Winkler on a 42-yard touchdown, making the score 28-0 and completely silencing any comeback for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys still didn’t give up as they were now playing for pride. Even after another Giles touchdown to make it 35-0, who would finish the game with 112 yards, the Cowboys’ defensive prowess would force a key fumble near the Cowboys’ goal line.
However, as the rest of the night had already gone, Cowboys quarterback Landon Naasz threw another interception, this time to defensive back Nicholas Machado, who would take it to the house on a 20-yard return, accounting for the final score of the game.
“I saw an opportunity to do what we had to do,” said Machado. “When it presented itself, I was able to do what I usually do and work. The focus is what helped me when we went over their stuff and mentally prepare for what they do.”
The Grizzlies’ season continues Friday in the first round of the CIF playoffs, but they are still waiting for their opponent to be determined.