Spring Valley head coach Marcus Teal approached Friday night’s game against California Interscholastic Federation Division IV power San Diego as a teaching moment for his young squad.
And despite losing 42-19 to the Cavers, who played for the CIF San Diego Sectional championship in 2017, it was not all bad news for the Grizzlies.
First, the good news — the Grizzlies (0-1) played inspired football in the first quarter, jumping out to a 13-7 lead on 12-yard touchdown reception by Marco Godinez from Frank Bartley and a 3-yard run by Kevynn Fernandez. Quarterback Mason DeCunzo engineered an impressive five-play, 64-yard scoring drive in the final 2:05 of the game.
On defense, the Grizzlies forced three turnovers with interceptions by Bartley and Eyoel Desalegn. On special teams, Adrian Alek recovered a fumble on a kickoff that led to a Spring Valley touchdown.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the next three quarters was all Cavers. San Diego finished the game rushing for 374 yards and six touchdowns on 36 carries. The Grizzlies didn’t help their cause with numerous penalties and personnel confusion on offense and defense.
“We’ve got a lot of sophomores, and with being the first time under the Friday night lights and playing against a good team, it showed,” Teal said. “We have a lot of things to work on. We approached this like a scrimmage. We’re going to go back on our bye week and work on those things that we missed on. Early on, we played good, really good, but then it just took a long time to get going again. We just couldn’t keep the momentum and the energy.”
The game turned for the Grizzlies midway through the second quarter. While trailing 13-7, the Cavers were facing fourth-and-4 at the Grizzlies 20-yard line. The Grizzlies defense jumped offside, giving the Cavers a first down. On the next play, San Diego’s Mo Jackson scored on a 15-yard run to give the lead back to the Cavers.
“That’s one of those things that we probably missed on these last couple of weeks,” Teal said. “Getting them to understand that in those situations we have to be smart, we have to be more disciplined. So we are just going to keep practicing those things and going over them until it’s an old habit.”
In the third quarter, the Cavers rushing attack wore down the Grizzlies defense as they scored three rushing touchdowns to take control of the game.
Godinez led the Grizzlies with 54 receiving yards and 11 rushing yards. He also scored two touchdowns. DeCunzo threw for 75 yards.
Raiden Hunter ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries to lead the Cavers. Jackson ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
“One thing that I regret doing is not making practice fast enough,” Teal said. “The game should have been easy. It felt like it was hard out here tonight and we were trying to find our way. We have got to get better at practice to make sure these guys are prepared.”