Saturday, May 25, 2024

Golden Valley football denied a section title by Laguna Hills

Must read

Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now.

CANYON COUNTRY — In a thrilling back-and-forth game, Golden Valley fell 28-27 to Laguna Hills in the championship game of the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs Saturday.

The game was decided on a blocked Golden Valley PAT attempt at the beginning of the fourth quarter by Laguna Hills’ Troy Leigber to secure the 28-27 victory.

“It was an amazing season, our kids fought hard, especially these last four weeks.” Golden Valley coach Dan Kelley said. “They’ve come from behind and played really good football teams and Laguna Hills is one of them and congrats to them.”

The 2022 Golden Valley football team was able to make school history, winning nine games for the first time ever and making its second ever CIF Southern Section Championship game.

The program has grown from a proverbial doormat in the Santa Clarita Valley that had never won a Foothill League game when Kelley was hired in 2014 to a team now that is competing for playoff position year after year and a top three finisher in the Foothill League.

Leading receiver Ajani Smith had nine catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns for the Grizzlies. Both of Smith’s scores came in the first quarter to give the Grizzlies a 14-7 lead after one quarter with Laguna’s score coming on a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kaden Austin to Kekoa Kelly. The Grizzlies took a 21-14 lead into halftime when Isaiah Orozco scored on a 58-yard touchdown run after Laguna Hills had scored on a QB sneak from Austin earlier in the second quarter.

In the second half of the game, the Grizzlies struggled to stop Laguna Hills running back and state touchdown leader Troy Leigber. Leigber finished the game with 26 carries for 204 yards and two second half touchdowns, giving him 44 for the season.

Leigber’s rushed for 145 in the second half on 15 carries, including an 84-yard touchdown run at the end of the third to give Laguna a 28-21 lead. Leigber also ended up making what was the game-deciding play by blocking Golden Valley’s PAT attempt after Malachi Beachum scored early in the foutth quarter.

“We knew we had our work cut out for us with their running back.” Kelley said. “He’s a very special athlete. He knows how to find space and get the ball upfield and we definitely played the best running back tonight that we’ve seen all year.”

Orozco ran the ball 14 times for 104 yards for Golden Valley with the one touchdown. Quarterback Christoper Melkonian was 13 of 16 for 206 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for the Grizzlies.

More articles

Latest article