Defense and special teams lead Stallions
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Tayte Grantham prepares for contact during Friday’s victory over Golden Valley. He rushed for 46 yards to help the Stallions’ ground game control the clock.
“For the student body to come out and enjoy a slice of high school life was really special for me, the school and the community.” — Madera South head coach Matt Johnson
Two field goals and a safety was all the Madera South Stallions football team needed in its home opener against Golden Valley-Merced.
Like the old adage goes in football, “a win is a win,” regardless of how unpleasant it might look.
For Madera South head coach Matt Johnson, Friday night’s defensive effort was pleasing, the special teams was on point, but to get the victory, that is the most important thing.
“We have to clean a few things up. We made a lot of mistakes out there,” Johnson admitted. “But, I am very proud the way they stepped up, especially the defense. They gave up one play against a Division I athlete, but short of that, they came to play.”
Stallion running backs Tayte Grantham, Angelo Moreno and quarterback Jacob Edwards led the way for Madera South as the Stallions pounded the rock from beginning until the very end. When the offensive line is winning at the point of attack, there was no reason for Madera South to deviate from the plan.
Grantham finished with 46 yards on the ground, Moreno collected 54 yards and Edwards finished the game with 49 yards on the ground.
Edwards passing game was a bit rusty with only a single completion, but when your kicker is as automatic as Rudy Valdez, taking the three points each time was a no-brainer.
Even if Johnson historically has bad luck when it comes to kicks, he knew his guy would come through. In addition, for Johnson, being able to convert and send the crowd home happy was worthwhile.
“To see their faces, to see them smile, and to see them finding joy one night is really what it is all about,” Johnson said. “The students have been cooped up for quite a while, you can tell the energy is coming around and you can feel it on campus.”
Madera South and Golden Valley were locked in an intense battle all game long.
But, it was Madera South who got on the board first.
Behind a strong defensive effort in the first half, the Stallions stymied Golden Valley at each turn.
In the first quarter after a Madera South turnover on the goal line, the Stallions’ defense came in and took the momentum by force. Madera South galloped through the Golden Valley offensive line and smothered the opposing running back in the end zone for a safety.
With a 2-0 lead, the Stallions defense continued to shoulder the load, stopping the visitors at every turn, until the second quarter.
Rudy Valdez connected on first field goal in the second quarter, this one from 40 yards out to give the Stallions a slight 5-0 cushion.
That lead would be dashed on one play as Golden Valley scored on a 50-yard touchdown run.
Instead of panicking, Madera South stuck to what worked for them and kept the game within reach.
A fumble recovery and two interceptions saw the Stallions’ defense take hold of the game.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that things began to heat up.
With minutes left in the game, the Stallions had one last chance down 6-5. Quarterback Edwards called his own number more than four times on the drive to set the Stallions up for a game winning field goal.
Edwards had a 12-yard carry in what was the most important drive of the game.
Grantham set them up after a tough run up in the middle on the opponent side of the 50-yard line.
With the game on the line, Valdez stepped up and sent the ball through the uprights, bringing the crowd to their feet.
Golden Valley drove down the field to set up a game-winning field goal.
However, before Golden Valley had a chance at the win, their quarterback took a hit in the pocket and lofted the ball to the end zone where the Stallions made the interception to basically ending the game.
The Stallions went into victory formation and ran out the clock to earn their first win of the season.