By Matt Lechuga
For The Signal
The Golden Valley Grizzlies (4-1, 1-0) leaned on their run game to open up Foothill League play with a strong 41-0 victory over visiting Castaic (1-4, 0-1) at Canyon High School Friday night.
The Grizzlies’ offense was in good position for most of the night, starting five of their 10 possessions in Castaic territory. And while their opening drive of the game stalled at the 6-yard line because of a fumbled handoff, the Grizzlies took control on their second drive, starting at the Castaic 39-yard line and ending with a 1-yard touchdown sneak by quarterback Christopher Melkonian.
“We weren’t happy with the way we played in the first half,” said Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley. “We were in the red zone twice and we couldn’t score, we turned the ball over. Credit to Castaic. They came out fired up. We regrouped at halftime and they played a way better second half and we ran the ball very well.”
The Grizzlies’ second score came after a long punt return by Ajani Smith set them up at the Castaic 26-yard line. Three straight runs by the elusive back Julian Rios finished with a 5-yard rush over the right side, pushing the Golden Valley lead to 14-0 heading into the half.
Rios led the way for the Grizzlies on the ground with 86 yards on 11 touches and the score, followed closely by Casey Jimenez, who had 83 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.
“[At halftime] Coach kept telling us that we were the better team and so we got the run game going and the pass game going in the second half,” said Rios. “Their linebackers started flowing to the outside so the inside was wide open.”
The second half was more of the same with the Grizzles scoring on all four of their possessions.
A blocked punt on Castaic’s opening drive of the third quarter set the Grizzlies up on the Coyote 8-yard line and, three plays later, Melkonian snuck in again from 1 yard out to push the score to 21-0. Rios scored on the next drive, again from 1 yard out, to make it 28-0.
An interception by Dallas Landry led to a 31-yard touchdown by Jimenez. And finally, after the Grizzlies forced a turnover on downs, Isaiah Orozco rushed in from 12 yards out to make the final score 41-0 after a missed PAT.
“We had some missed opportunities in the first half, a fumble we recovered and an interception, but we couldn’t put the ball in the end zone,” said Castaic head coach Anthony Uebelhardt. “We tried to make adjustments at halftime to their blitzes and things like that, we had a good game plan. We just couldn’t execute on the things we were trying to do.”
The Grizzlies (4-1, 1-0) will look to keep the winning streak going when they host Hart next week and Castaic (1-4, 0-1) will continue its search for its first Foothill League win when it hosts Valencia next Friday.