No. 5 Grizzlies take on No. 1 Monsoons for a shot at the CIF title game
And then there was one.
After a grueling regular season and just two weeks of playoff action, only Golden Valley (8-4) remains among the Santa Clarita Valley teams in the CIF-Southern Section football playoffs.
Up next for the Grizzlies is a trip down to Bellflower to take on the top-seeded Mayfair Monsoons (8-4) at Ron Yary Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. The winner would advance to the Division 7 championship game against either Laguna Hills (11-1) or Western (10-1).
The Grizzlies’ path to the semifinals has seen them beat both Summit and Paloma Valley by double digits, while their defense has come alive at the right time. Wide receiver Ajani Smith had three touchdown catches against Paloma last week, while defensive back Dallas Landry intercepted three passes en route to a 42-28 victory.
The Monsoons had a rough time in their opener against Glendora, taking that one, 35-28, in overtime before putting up a stout defensive performance in the quarterfinals against Claremont, winning, 12-7.
Both teams average around 25 points per game and give up around 21 points per game, with the Grizzlies taking the edge there by a slight margin.
The Monsoons have been relying on senior running back Medrick Burnett Jr. and senior quarterback Evan Tomich to carry the offensive load. Those will be the two players that Golden Valley linebacker Malachi Beacham will be keying in on, and hoping to stop.
On defense, Mayfair has senior defensive lineman Leroy Palu, who has made a habit of wreaking havoc in the backfield all season. He’ll be one for Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley to watch as he gets his quarterback, senior Chris Melkonian, ready for Friday.
Speaking of Melkonian, he’s been everything Kelley could have asked for through two postseason games. He missed just three passes against Summit while throwing for 154 yards and a touchdown, and then backed that up with three touchdowns against Paloma Valley last week.
The Grizzlies aren’t one-dimensional, either. Melkonian is capable of scrambling out of the pocket, whether designed or intuitive, or Kelley can call upon junior Julian Rios, who has averaged nearly 50 yards on the ground per game.
It’s one of those games that could go either way, and a fitting game for a Southern Section semifinal.