By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
Turnovers were the story of the game between the West Ranch Wildcats and the Golden Valley Grizzlies.
The Wildcats (6-1, 2-0) beat the Grizzlies (3-3, 1-1), 37-14, with their defense, producing two touchdowns on defense in the first half alone. Despite deceivingly high scoring, both teams showed why they are among the top defenses in the Foothill League.
“We made mistakes in the first half on offense that we haven’t made all year, and we gave them the ball,” said Grizzlies head coach Dan Kelley. “We just can’t make mistakes like that, especially inside the 10-yard line. Hats off to West Ranch, they have a great all-around team. Coach (Chris) Varner and I talk a lot and we approach the game the same way. I enjoy his friendship and I enjoy his game very much.”
The Wildcats’ dynamic quarterback Ryan Staub threw two interceptions, one to defensive back Casey Jimenez and the other to defensive back Ajani Smith, but the Grizzlies’ two fumbles were returned to the house.
Wildcats middle linebacker Connor Reyes returned a 62-yard touchdown and outside linebacker Brady Van Bennekum returned a 94-yard touchdown.
Off the interceptions, the Grizzlies would answer back quickly off a 31-yard pass from Jaxson Miner to Nicholas Machado. However, that would be the only offensive touchdown for the Grizzlies for the entirety of the game until the closing minutes.
Prior to the 94-yard fumble recovery, Grizzlies running back Jared Giles accounted for 43 yards on the drive alone. Giles would finish the first half with 87 rush yards.
Staub would finish the half with two interceptions, but he would throw for 155 yards. Staub and the Wildcats would turn their slow offensive start around in the second half.
Staub would finish the game with 176 passing yards due to the offensive script turning to the run game for the remainder of the game. Wildcats running back Dylan Roof would finish the game with 120 rushing yards on 10 carries while also accounting for three rushing touchdowns. Roof would account for all the offensive touchdowns for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats would finish with 175 rushing yards as a team.
“The line was blocking, the holes were opening up and all three of our running backs were running hard,” said Roof when asked about his three touchdowns. “We still had momentum from last week for us. We couldn’t underestimate Golden Valley so we just had to go out and do what we did.”
Any offensive momentum for the Grizzlies would quickly be diminished due to the relentless efforts of the Wildcats’ defense. The Grizzlies would lead long drives behind Giles, who would finish the game with 131 rushing yards, but would be stopped.
The Wildcats would then answer back with long drives of their own, but would end up tiring down the stout Grizzlies defense and end up in the end zone.
“We have nothing but respect for Kelley and his guys,” said Varner, the Wildcats’ coach. “The main focus was to not stay up on the high of beating Valencia the week before. Golden Valley could easily beat us if we didn’t take them seriously, but I’m glad we saw everything work out for us. We just have to stay consistent and keep that momentum going.”
The Wildcats’ next matchup is scheduled against Canyon on Friday at 7 p.m. at Valencia. The Grizzlies’ next matchup is scheduled against Saugus on Friday at 7 p.m. at College of the Canyons.