GARDEN VALLEY — After a tough week for both Golden Sierra and El Dorado, each was anxious to step onto the gridiron and improve. That was evident from the opening quarter as each of the combatants played with energy and enthusiasm.
The host Grizzlies’ strength was displayed with a punishing rushing attack as they chewed up yardage behind the running of Adam Sewell (16 carries, 94 yards) who started the scoring for the night with a 23-yard gallop to pay dirt and a 6-0 lead.
That advantage was short-lived by Golden Sierra as the Cougars unleashed an all-out aerial assault with precision as Nick Bonniksen (27-of-32, 241 yards, one touchdown) and the Cougars continually marched down the field the entire evening. One of those drives was a quick strike from Bonniksen to Clayton Van Duyn who rumbled 61 yards to the end zone for a 7-6 lead El Dorado never relinquished on its way to the 27-6 victory.
Once El Dorado gained the advantage, Golden Sierra constantly battled back only to be met by the opportunistic Cougar defense which forced five turnovers.
“We actually moved the ball well and our defense played hard but as a team there was just costly mistakes that hurt us tonight,” Griz quarterback Bryson Campbell said.
That pattern continued over the course of the game as the El Dorado defense harassed the Grizzlies the entire night and gathered sacks from Daniel Rivera, Dakota Gautier, Vincent Ross and Gage Raley. The Cougars also had interceptions by Gavin Zirbel, Jeremiah Romero and Bryce Buford with Romero taking back one of the thefts for a touchdown.
With the dominance by the defense, El Dorado’s offense put together a methodical drive in the middle of the second quarter that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Derek Delfino and after the extra point from Sam McCrea, the Cougars held a 14-6 advantage they took to halftime.
“Our team came out tonight and ran our spread offense. We are improving at it and there are things we need to clean up for the most part though we had a good game this evening. Our defense stopped their sweep and we now have to get ready for a tough league game,” said El Dorado wide receiver Caleb Melton, who hauled in 11 receptions in the game for 69 yards.
After intermission, Golden Sierra calmly marched down the field to the 21-yard line of El Dorado. The momentum shifted at that point as the Cougars forced a turnover. El Dorado then used a fake punt to take a 20-6 lead as Bradley Schmidt threw a sideline pass to Zachary Culp for 48 yards and the touchdown.
For the remainder of the night, the Cougars silenced the offensive attack of Golden Sierra while Romero put the finishing touches on the victory with a 31-yard interception return for the score.
“We are moving forward with our spread offense and looking to improve and play a clean game on both sides of the ball. The SVC (Sierra Valley Conference) is a tough league and next week will be a test,” El Dorado coach Joe Volek said.
The Cougars hope to take their aerial assault to new heights as they battle Vista del Lago this week in their first league contest of the season. The Grizzlies look to put a mark in the win column after a bye week when they travel to Vacaville Christian on Friday, Sept. 28.