The Golden Valley High School football team defeated Nipomo 15-2 in a first-round CIF-Southern Section Division 6 playoff game Friday night — all without their best player.
The Grizzlies scored a touchdown in each half and made a field goal late in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Nipomo defense thrown a curveball
Junior De’Gabriel Floyd — a four-star prospect and a verbal commit to USC who stars for the Grizzlies on offense and defense — was dressed for the beginning of the game, but he changed into street clothes for the second half and did not record any statistics.
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With Floyd behind center, the Golden Valley offense usually runs a “Wildcat” offense, which features a direct snap to the ball carrier. But Floyd’s absence turned the offense on its head, with the Grizzlies opting for a more traditional offense through seldom-used junior quarterback Zack Chevalier.
Chevalier connected with senior speedster Jalin Lewis for touchdowns of 56 and 40 yards, and also had two long scores called back due to penalties. Lewis was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. Chevalier finished 16-of-23 passing for 263 yards.
The Titans focused on stopping bruising senior running back DJ Turner, who had 23 carries for 129 yards, which left corners with no help on the outside. Lewis and the Grizzlies took advantage with quick catch and runs, which led to both touchdowns and four plays over 25 yards.
Nipomo’s Simon Rodriguez and Roberto Jr. Buenrosto each had sacks.
The Titans had a chance to set a different tone early in the game when their defense forced and recovered a fumble on the Grizzlies’ first series of the game. Freshman Keyshawn Pu’a came up with the ball, giving the Titans the ball on the Grizzlies’ 31-yard line. The Titans then squandered the opportunity, going three and out and missing the ensuing field goal.
The young Titans’ offense was unable to get much yardage through the air or on the ground until late in the game against the larger opponent.
Junior running back Luis-Diego Riquelme had 14 carries for 91 yards, and sophomore quarterback Brayden Groshart totaled 128 yards passing, with the bulk coming on two 40-plus yard plays — one to senior Jedu Matautia-Reyes and another to Cole Bajema.
The Titans’ lone points came when Groshart was intercepted at the 1-yard line and the Grizzlies defender knelt in the end zone for a safety.
The youth of the Titans showed all season long, but it’s their youth that should have them hopeful for what’s to come. Groshart will return with another season at quarterback under his belt — this year was only his second at the position and first on varsity — as will much of the offensive line.
While the defense will lose playmakers such as Matautia-Reyes and Gage Wynn — who had an interception in Friday’s game to close out the second half — the Titans will have Pu’a, middle linebacker and leading tackler Jesse Garza, as well as sophomore Anthony Perez to help shore up the defense next year.