Golden Valley football stifled by Garfield 

Sean Gomez (3) of Golden Valley evades Garfield High defenders as he runs back off and takes it to the eight yard line in the second quarter at Canyon High on Friday, 090823. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Opposing back scores a hat trick as Bulldogs win, 35-14 

Golden Valley football has prided itself on its run game to start the season. 

Friday night against Garfield, it was the run game that hurt the Grizzlies time and time again. 

The Bulldogs (3-1) were nearly unstoppable on the ground as senior Damian Cornejo amassed 226 rushing yards and a hat trick of scores to lead Garfield to a 35-14 victory over the Grizzlies (2-2) at Harry Welch Stadium. 

“He’s strong, he’s elusive, got good vision and he’s got great speed,” Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley said of Cornejo. “We knew we were going against a very good football team with a lot of size and a lot of ability.”

Golden Valley quarterback Brandon Contreres (5) hand off to runningback Isaiah Orozco (27) against Garfield High at Canyon High on Friday, 090823. Dan Watson/The Signal

Garfield, the runners-up in the CIF City Section Division 1 championship game last season, showed why they belong among the top teams in the City Section once again. The Bulldogs ran out to a 28-7 lead at the half, with Cornejo picking up two of his scores and 172 of his rushing yards in the first two frames. 

Golden Valley has been accustomed to playing from behind this year and showed Kelley yet again that the Grizzlies won’t back down. The defense responded by only allowing one touchdown in the second half, though Cornejo came out of the game after scoring midway through the third quarter. 

“We did a better job in the second half, but we’re getting hit with the injury bug right now,” Kelley said. 

Teammates Isaiah Orozco (27) and Joshua Clarke (65) celebrate after Orasco scored Golden Valley’s first touchdown in the first quarter against Garfield High at Canyon High on Friday, 090823. Dan Watson/The Signal

Multiple Grizzlies went down with injuries throughout the contest, though none appeared to be serious. 

The Grizzlies got their two scores from senior running back Isaiah Orozco. He ran for 81 yards to bring his season total up to 677 entering Foothill League play while also recording an interception and two rushing touchdowns. 

Grizzlies senior Christian Patino also had an interception. 

Kelley was somewhat surprised by the way his offense worked better out of the spread in the second half. 

“We actually ran the ball better out of our spread than we did our power sets tonight,” Kelley said. “That shows that we can do both. I thought at times we threw the ball well, but again, we made some mistakes, especially when they’re playing in a prevent, preventing us to get the ball down the field.” 

Grizzlies quarterback Brandon Contreras threw for 180 yards while completing 13 of 26 passes. He picked up a third of those yards on a 69-yard completion to senior Julian Rios in the first quarter to set up Orozco’s first touchdown.  

Golden Valley defenders Jackson Anderson (8) and Kam’ron Pierre (22) stop Garfield High quarterback Dominic Vasquez (13) at the line of scrimmage at Canyon High on Friday, 090823. Dan Watson/The Signal

Rios finished with three catches for 98 yards. Golden Valley junior Ricky Gonzalez added 49 yards on just four carries. 

Garfield picked off Contreras three times on the night. 

Kelley will be looking to clean up some of the mistakes as the attention turns to league. The Grizzlies have now given up 135 points through their four games and struggled to get the ball into the end zone from close distance on Friday. 

“Garfield’s, in my opinion, one of the best teams in the City Section,” Kelley said. “What they’re doing over there with those kids, they’re disciplined and well-coached. Our kids are well-coached and disciplined, but the better team won tonight.  

“Going into Foothill league play, every team is doing really well in preseason. We got our work cut out against Castaic, who’s got a winning record.” 

Garfield quarterback Dominic Vasquez added 47 yards on the ground while completing 5 of 7 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Robert Sanchez ran the ball nine times for 63 yards. 

Julian Rios (10) of Golden Valley catches a long pass to set up Golden Valley’s first touchdown in the first quarter against Garfield High at Canyon High on Friday, 090823. Dan Watson/The Signal

Garfield enters Eastern League play next week, taking on South Gate (0-4) on the road on Thursday. 

Golden Valley is also on the road on Thursday as Foothill League begins. The Grizzlies take on Castaic (3-1) at 7 p.m. in what is supposed to be the first game played at Valencia High School this season after delays to field renovations, according to a statement released by the William S. Hart Union High School District last month. 

Kelley likes his team’s chances but knows that he can’t look too far ahead with how good each team is in the league. 

“We gotta take it one week at a time. You can’t predict anything,” he said. 

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