BVarsity Blog

Saturday, Aug 10 2013 01:00 PM

2013 HS football previews: Golden Valley

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Happy weekend, everybody. I'm enjoying my last full weekend before football season starts, which is to say I'm enjoying my last full weekend before Christmas. It's been nice knowing you, family.

Countdown to Week 0: 20 days

GOLDEN VALLEY BULLDOGS

Coach: Erich Smith (seventh year)

2012 record: 3-7 (0-4 South Yosemite League, 1-4 home)
Average points: 28.0
Average points allowed: 39.7
Average rush yards: 166.8
Average rush yards allowed: 333.4
Average pass yards: 187.2
Average pass yards allowed: 175.8
Best win: Golden Valley 41, Taft 31
Worst loss: Mira Monte 45, Golden Valley 37
*—yardage figures are from MaxPreps and are only used if at least half of games are available. Take them with a grain of salt. Figure could be skewed depending on which games, if any, are missing

Key players: Andrew Dean, jr, RB/DB; Jachi Harrell, jr, WR/DB; Anthony Garcia, sr, OL/DL; Andres Larios, sr, OL/DL; Jason Fabelina, sr, LB

Key losses: Alex Soto, QB; Brendan Rufus, RB/LB; Demetric Fair, WR/DB; Michael Buckner, RB/DL

Offense: Erich Smith takes pride in coaching quarterbacks, particularly young ones, so this season should be right up his alley: Either sophomore Tyler Waters or junior Jacob Vallejo will take over as the up-and-down career of Alex Soto comes to an end. Both are well over 6 feet tall and capable of being the gunslinger Smith likes to be the point man in his offense. And there are skill-position players to make it work, from returning leading rusher Andrew Dean to speedy wide receivers Jachi Harrell, Jessie Hodges and Jesus Silvestre. Two returners on the line, Anthony Garcia and Andres Larios, will help, too. This unit, given that Smith can help the young quarterback along, has a good chance to return to the Golden Valley offenses from three and four years ago, when the Bulldogs put up huge passing yardage and points totals and consequently won a bunch of games.

Defense: No matter how the offense comes together, Smith knows Golden Valley has the most room for improvement on defense, where even in good years, the Bulldogs have been fairly leaky. That went to new lows last year, when GV surrendered more than 500 yards per game (granted, Garces, Wasco and Ridgeview were all on the schedule). In response, Smith is simplifying things, returning to a four-man front and play his star players both ways, trying to get as much production out of his best seven or eight players as possible. The strength should be the defensive backfield, where Jessie Hodges, Jachi Harrell and Mike Hernandez all return. Jason Fabelina will have to be really active at linebacker; of the Bulldogs' top seven tacklers a year ago, he and Hodges are the only two who return.

Outlook: Despite some obvious warning signs — a large senior class graduated, leaving a relatively small team behind — Smith sounds more energized than he has in years. He said that's a product of coaching a group of players, particularly a big junior class, that really seems to enjoy the game. It's still a bit of a mystery why last year's senior-laden team had a rough season for a coach who has a history of success, but this could be a case of addition by subtraction, in the sense that Smith and other coaches seem energized by the failure. That doesn't mean Golden Valley will go from an 0-4 finish in the SYL to suddenly back to league champions, but it's been done before. The concerns are at quarterback, where an inexperienced player is going to have a lot of responsibility from the get-go, and in overall depth; Smith acknowledges that a couple of key injuries could really cripple this team, particularly with more players going two ways. Avoid that misfortune, though, and a return to the Division III playoffs should be the minimum for a talented team that disappointed last season.

Quotable: "Last year was really disappointing. We had a senior-laden team but didn't reach expectations. We have a younger team but higher expectations this year. The junior-level talent is excellent and starting to get a feel for varsity football. How many college scholarships these guys are going to get, I don't know, but as far as high school football, this group is great." — Smith

Schedule: Aug. 30 Taft
Sept. 6 Garces
Sept. 13 at Highland
Sept. 20 at Wasco
Sept. 27 at North
Oct. 4 Foothill
Oct. 11 BYE
Oct. 18 at West*
Oct. 25 Mira Monte*
Nov. 1 at South*
Nov. 8 Ridgeview*
*—SYL game

Prediction: 5-5, 1-3 SYL

2013 HS football preview index
Aug. 1: 8-man schools
Aug. 2: Burroughs, Boron, Desert
Aug. 3: Rosamond, California City
Aug. 4: Frazier Mountain, Kern Valley
Aug. 5: McFarland, Delano, Kennedy
Aug. 6: Chavez
Aug. 6: Shafter
Aug. 7: Arvin
Aug. 7: Taft
Aug. 8: Wasco
Aug. 8: Bakersfield Christian
Aug. 9: Mira Monte

Tomorrow: South

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