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Prep football: Pride or momentum

Posted: November 10, 2010 10:17 p.m.
Updated: November 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Canyon running back Darius Rudolph (5) breaks the tackle of Hart’s Bobby Phillips last Friday at COC. Canyon running back Darius Rudolph (5) breaks the tackle of Hart’s Bobby Phillips last Friday at COC.
Canyon running back Darius Rudolph (5) breaks the tackle of Hart’s Bobby Phillips last Friday at COC.

Canyon and Golden Valley are in very different situations at this point in the football season.

What the team's do have in common is something to play for in today's 7:30 p.m. regular-season finale at Canyon High School.

For Canyon, it's obvious.

The Cowboys can win at least a share of the Foothill League title with a win coupled with a Valencia loss.

The Grizzlies, who are no longer in the playoff picture, have their own motivation.

"Pride," said Golden Valley head coach Andy Campbell. "I think (former) NFL head coach Herm Edwards said it best, ‘You play to win the game.'"

Golden Valley (3-6, 0-4), still without a league win in school history, has played some its closest games against Foothill opponents this season, but hasn't been able to finish one with a victory.

"Whoever said there are no moral victories in football has never gone 0-10 or has never chased that elusive first league win," Campbell said. "We just never figured out a way to win in the previous games. We had a shot in all the games. We were the better team."

It won't be an easy task to pull out a win today against a Canyon team averaging more than 36 points per game in league play.

The Cowboys (8-1, 3-1) have done it with the productive passing game anchored by wide receivers Drew Wolitarsky and T.J. Yonkers for most of the season, while running back Darius Rudolph given life to the running game.

He's amassed a combined 343 yards on 38 carries and five rushing touchdowns in the past two games.

"With a team as dynamic as Canyon, everybody needs to do their job," Campbell said. "If we load the box, they can throw it. If we sit back in coverage, they can run it. We just need to take our shots when we have the advantage and limit our mistakes."

Though Canyon can earn the title of co-champion of the league, it has already secured a No. 2 seed and a playoff spot due to winning the head-to-head matchups over West Ranch and Saugus.

"We've got business to take care of, so we need the momentum going into the playoffs," said Canyon head coach Chris Varner. "We've got to be playing our best football going into the playoffs."

After last week's scare against Hart, when Canyon had to come back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win, the focus will be playing more consistently this week.

"We've still got to catch the ball. We've still got to make the blocks," Varner said. "A few dropped balls here and there and all the sudden, you're in a situation you don't want to be in."

The Cowboys will also have to find consistency on the defensive side to stop Golden Valley's Jeff Coprich and Earl Johnson in the backfield. Coprich has gained 100 yards or more in seven of the Grizzlies' nine games this season, while Johnson leads the team in scoring with 10 touchdowns.

"This is not going to be an easy game by any means," Varner said. "They've got some offensive weapons and they play an aggressive defense."

It will be the final test of 2010 for a Golden Valley team trying to compete in the difficult Foothill League.

"There is great football played out here, that is for sure," Campbell said. "I definitely feel better about contributing to the betterment of this league."



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