After upsetting the No. 1 seed Kingsburg, the Cavs defeated Golden West 18-16 to advance to their third consecutive valley championship
VISALIA – CVC and Golden West is gradually becoming a playoff tradition. The two teams have now played each other four straight years in the post season, and have met in the championship in the previous two years. After the Blazers won the first two matchups, the Cavaliers won the last two meetings including last year’s Valley Championship.
The semifinal game was a tightly fought battle where mistakes proved to be extremely costly. Trailing 10-15 in the third quarter, Golden West used the momentum from a good kick return to help them regain the lead. Michael Wessel ran 5 yards into the end zone for his second score of the night. He accounted for both of the Blazers’ touchdowns as he ended the night with over 128 yards from scrimmage. They could not convert the two-point conversion which would hurt them later in the game. They were ahead by one-point heading into the final period.
On CVC’s ensuing possession, they were able to move the ball as far as their opponent’s nine-yard line. However, they suffered an offensive pass interference which put them at first and goal from outside of the red zone for the second time in the game. The Blazer defense stood tall and only allowed a field goal as the Cavaliers went ahead by one point with under eight minutes remaining. On Golden West’s first play on their next drive, they fumbled away the ball and consequently their season. CVC was able to score but it was negated by another penalty. They had to settle for three points but missed the field goal which gave the Blazers one last shot to save their season. Their running game was not as efficient as other games which hindered their ability to move the ball down the field. They turned the ball over on downs after a fourth down pass was just out of the reach of Wessel’s outstretched hands. The Cavs were able to run out the clock and end the Golden West season.
“[CVC’s] two senior linemen that play both ways, Dirk Nelson and Karson Oliver, are phenomenally good players,” Golden West head coach Paul Preheim said. “They held up the line of scrimmage and made it very hard for us on both sides of the ball.”
Golden West failed to record a hundred-yard rusher which drastically crippled their Wing-T offense. Despite the struggles to run the ball, Preheim points to the late turnover as the difference in the game.
“I think we fought but they were just bigger,” he said. “It’s hard to overcome that size advantage.”
CVC head coach Mason Hughes credits his defense’s strong play to his scout team running back Trey Dodge who played a vast role in preparing the defense to slow down the powerful Blazer running game. The Cavs will now get a chance to defend their Valley championship after defeating Golden West in the game last year.
After being the No. 2 seed last season, the Cavs had some major struggles this year. Consequently, they were the No. 8 seed this year and had to upset No. 1 ranked Kingsburg a week before defeating the Blazers. That victory was sweet revenge as CVC was embarrassed by Kingsburg at home about six weeks prior.
The Cavaliers were also without their star running back, Jaalen Rening, who suffered a season ending injury in week eight. The Division I prospect was only able to play in five games this year after Hughes called him the “best kept secret in the valley” prior to the season.
“All of the people who needed to step up did that, and this team has been resilient all year,” Hughes said.
The running game didn’t miss a beat as seniors Logan Jacobi and Tyce Griswold combined for 276 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“When a Division I player goes down, it changes a lot of things, but I think it shows the strength that CVC has,” said Griswold.
They will now travel to play an old rival, Bakersfield Christian, on Friday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.