Trailblazers fall to the McClymonds Warriors 42-12 in CIF D-5AA State Championship game
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
VISALIA – Golden West was one of only 26 other teams playing in the state on Saturday. And despite being trounced in size, speed and on the scoreboard, the Trailblazers have nothing to hang their heads about.
Head coach Paul Preheim said that he doesn’t believe in moral victories, but at the same time he can’t ignore the historic season Golden West has had. In 2017 the Blazers finished the regular season 8-2, earned a first round bye in the CIF Central Section D-IV playoffs, won their first ever Valley Championship in a 27-21 overtime thriller against CVC, became CIF D-5AA SoCal Regional Champions and then became runner-up state champions on Saturday.
“This season says a lot about this system, a lot about this program and where we’re going,” Preheim said.
“This is a special season, with special kids with great hearts,” Stan Kanawyer, Golden West’s offensive coordinator said.
And Kanawyer is right, 2017 has been a special season all around. But it has also been a special season for individual players with none more notable than Gonzalo Rodriguez. Kanawyer’s Wing-T rush first offense has propelled Golden West’s stats to the top of the charts. Coming into Saturday’s performance Golden West was first in the state in rush attempts, third in rushing yardage, fourth in rushing touchdown and fifth in rushing yards per game. Most of those stats came from the legs of Rodriguez.
In his career “Gonzo” has rushed for an average of 115.4 yards per game and 5,540 total career yards with 75 touchdowns. In 2017 alone he took claim of the Visalia All-Time Leading Rushing Record in week 9 when he broke the 4,183 yard mark previously set by El Diamante running back Wayne Jones in 2006. It seems as if Gonzo’s record will take at least 10 years for someone else to come along and snatch as he set the mark at 5,540 career yards coming into the game against McClymonds.
Despite running aground against a stout Warriors defense, in addition to their explosive offense, those accomplishments will not be forgotten for years to come. As well, it is not as if Golden West gave up Saturday’s title game without a fight, they gave the Warriors everything they had.
On Golden West’s first drive of the game they went for it on fourth and one at their own 36. Fortunately they picked up the first down but they went on to punt three plays later. Later on in the game the Trailblazers pulled a trick play out of their hat when quarterback Payton Allen skipped the ball backwards to back-up quarterback and wide receiver Tyson Sandry. Sandry had trouble pulling the ball in but with pressure in his face he heaved the ball downfield to speedster Kia Caudell. The pass was incomplete but it showed the Blazers were making some efforts.
On defense the Blazers were in the right positions at the right time, but they just couldn’t keep up with the athleticism of McClymonds. On a deep ball to the end zone safeties Allen and Sandry were there to pick the ball off. Instead of coming up with a potential momentum changing turnover – while down 21-0 – Warrior wide receiver Charles Alberty leaped up, put one hand in the air and caught the nose of the ball for the score.
In the second half Golden West attempted a fake punt when wide receiver Ben Davis pretended to walk off the field but lined up along the nearside boundary. Instead of punting it Allen pulled up and threw it up for Davis. Unfortunately it was too high for Davis to reel in.
Golden West went on to score late the fourth quarter when the defense recovered a fumble in the end zone to make the score 6-42. The Blazers scored again when they recovered another fumble around the 35 yard line. Caudell turned that drive into points when he rushed around the nearside for the Blazer’s second touchdown and the final 42-12.
“We can’t let one loss like this ruin the season…I’m extremely proud of what everyone did,” Preheim said.