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A new day at Golden Valley

Posted: September 10, 2009 10:33 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Today, Golden Valley football will begin a new era.

The Grizzlies have a new coach and young players who want to get some game experience together.

In short, they're exactly like the team they're facing.

Royal High School of Simi Valley is a young team with a new coach, and Golden Valley head coach Andy Campbell likes the matchup.

"I honestly think we match up very well against them physically," Campbell said. "Our whole game plan this week is to be more physical than they are. We should look like men out there."

For the Highlanders, 6-foot-1-inch, 175-pound quarterback Zach Collins will lead a young offense that will try to be balanced.

"We're a very unified group," said Royal head coach Kevin Flye. "We've got a lot of character. I think they're going to show well for themselves."

Flye takes over for former head coach Gene Uebelhardt, who spent 21 seasons as head coach at Royal.

The Highlanders were 4-6 last year and haven't had a winning record since 2005. They play in the Marmonte League, home to such programs as Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and Newbury Park and Westlake.

On defense, the Highlanders run a basic four-man front, which the Grizzlies will attack with quarterback Jimmy Hughes and running back Joseph Figueroa.

Hughes will have a pair of speedy, athletic options on the outside in wide receivers Dylan Olson and Corey Chaisson.

The timing between Hughes and his skill players took a hit when the Station Fire canceled practice all last week, but Campbell put his team through a different kind of workout.

"I brought in my (players), and I would ask the kids what other positions would do on certain plays," he said. "They would go up to the board and draw a line to show what other positions would do. What we kind of found out is that there's more than one way to skin a cat."

Both teams saw each other during summer passing leagues, and Flye was impressed with Golden Valley's athleticism.

When the Grizzlies returned to practice earlier this week, they were displaying something else.

"We opened right away with one of our competitive hitting drills," Campbell said. "Our kids are just foaming at the mouth to hit somebody else."

They'll get their chance tonight, along with the Highlanders.

"We just want to get that first game under their belts, get that experience so we can move on," Flye said.

For Golden Valley, however, the game signifies more.

Since the Grizzlies began playing football in 2005, they have struggled to be competitive in many of their games, much less achieve a winning record.

Starting this season, Campbell hopes to change that.

So what will be a successful opener for Golden Valley?

"I think the answer everybody's looking for is to be competitive," Campbell said. "That's not the case. We're going into this game preparing to win and come out on top.

"Royal is an established school. They're not Kilpatrick. They're not Hoover. For us to go out and do what we feel we are capable of doing, I really think that would set the tone."


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