Dennis Stubbs can't help but be impressed with the resiliency shown by his Golden Valley High football team.
The Cougars head coach didn't know how his team would react this week after opening the season with back-to-back grueling losses to Downey and Beyer.
Golden Valley had leads in the second half in both games only to see victories slip away because of crucial mistakes late in the game. The two losses have came by a combined 10 points.
"I think it was tougher on me than anyone," Stubbs said. "I just want it so bad for this team with what they've been through and the effort they've given. We're trying to keep everything in perspective. We have to improve.
"Two weeks in a row we didn't finish. We need a spark. We need somebody to make a big play."
The bad news for the Cougars is tonight they'll face the best team they've seen this season in Granada (1-1) of Livermore.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Stadium.
Why does Stubbs want to see this group succeed?
He's working with a senior class that started out 0-10 as freshmen and have won just five games in their time at Golden Valley. The junior class has never won a game.
Despite the lack of success, they keep showing up and the energy level hasn't dropped.
"I've coached a lot of teams and these guys come out every day, nobody misses," Stubbs said. "They work hard. That's all you can ask.
"We've had a great week of practice. They see where we need to improve, but they also see the good things we've been doing. This week we're going to be tested. Granada is more like a team we'll see in league."
The Cougars were able to make mistakes early and still stay in the game against Downey and Beyer. If Golden Valley makes the same mistakes tonight the game could get ugly.
One area the Cougars have to improve is turnovers. Interceptions and fumbles have led to easy points for the opposition in the first two games.
"We've given up two pick-sixes in the first two games," Stubbs said. "That just can't happen. We've got to make it easier for (quarterback Steve Alvarez). He knows he has to play better, but we have to help him out."
The Cougars have had their bright spots. Jashaan Wright has made some big plays in the passing game, scoring in both games. Isaiah Peterson and Ty Jones have run the ball hard behind an offensive line that has blocked well.
The defense has also been much improved this season with the help of new defensive coordinator Raven Keene.
The crucial turnovers and lack of depth have been too much to overcome early in the season.
"These kids haven't had success so they don't know how to finish," Stubbs said. "We have to get away from that negativity when something goes wrong. We've got to change that."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or email@example.com.