The Golden West Trailblazers and CVC Cavaliers will battle it out for Visalia, Division IV supremacy for second straight year
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
VISALIA – When Golden West won their rivalry game against El Diamante on Oct. 26, offensive coordinator Stan Kanawyer said they were the only team able to beat CVC. The Cavaliers were 8-2 at the time and near the top of the Division IV standings.
Now, after two playoff wins, the Trailblazers will be able to show whether they are the ones capable of the taking down the football juggernauts who handled the high-flying Monache Marauders 61-14 last Friday night.
“We have the only offense that can do enough damage to keep us in the game. And it proved itself tonight. Monache has a spread offense and they got blown out,” Trailblazer head coach Paul Preheim said.
The Cavaliers’ and Trailblazers’ match will be the third straight time they have faced off in the Division IV playoffs, and the second straight time they will face off in the championship game. Last year’s game required overtime to settle the score. And, in the first period, Golden West’s star running back Gonzalo Rodriguez put the game away when he broke loose for a 15-yard scoring run to win.
It was the first valley championship in football for Golden West, and the first one as a head coach in Preheim’s football coaching career. For CVC head coach Mason Hughes, it was a difficult loss to take, as he’s never won a valley title himself. Preheim admitted that before last year’s game he wanted to win, of course, but if the Blazers had lost he would be happy for his friend to have won. That might be the same sentiment heading into this Friday’s game at the Cavaliers’ home, but Preheim has spent the better part of this week preparing to quell a potent offensive powerhouse.
This season, Central Valley Christian has managed to throw up an average of 43 points a game with their highest totals coming against Monache, Exeter and Hanford West. Stopping them is going to be hard, and Preheim says it is difficult to find a flaw in their offense.
“They have a very good team, we just got to go in there and watch film and find out where their flaws are. Their line is huge, they have great backs, and their quarterback was a junior last year and has thrown a lot of footballs this year. So I don’t know if they have any flaws. Maybe we’ll find something schematically,” Preheim said.
Preheim might be right about finding something in their scheme that will give CVC fits. It certainly worked against last week’s semifinal opponent. The Wasco Tigers knocked off the No. 1-seeded Porterville Panthers 20-7 in a surprising victory. But they had no such luck against the Trailblazers.
While Wasco scored the first quarter’s only points to take the lead 7-0, it was all Golden West after that. In the second quarter, the Trailblazers scored 26 unanswered points. Sophomore Michael Wessel tied up the game on a fourth and goal try just inches outside the goal line by sprinting to the corner of the end zone. When Golden West got the ball back, quarterback Tyson Sandri hit Jose Ramos sprinting across the field for a 38-yard touchdown strike. Wessel ended the game with 66 yards on two carries and his two touchdowns.
With three minutes left in the half, Wessel again hit the jets to speed around the left side for a 30-plus-yard touchdown. But after Wasco failed to throw themselves back into the game with three straight passes, their first attempts in two games, they gave the ball back to Golden West with 31 seconds left—too little time for some teams but too much for the Trailblazers.
Christian Ortiz, who grabbed 187 yards for himself on the night took a draw play up the middle and broke through several arm tackles on his way to a 48-yard touchdown run. The score put the final touches on the eventual final and all of the momentum in the hands of the Trailblazers heading into half time.
Now the Blazers will head into their championship game at CVC starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23.