James Sanchez high-stepped through the back of the end zone, near the pop-up tents and spillover crowd, pumping the football in the air for all to see.
New team. New year. New feeling.
The makeover for the Golden Valley football team is nearly complete. Cougar Stadium, however, remains a work in progress.
Playing for the first time under the lights of Cougar Stadium, Golden Valley displayed a new and exciting brand of football.
And a fresh young quarterback, too.
Tyler Arnsberg amassed nearly 300 yards of total offense and led Golden Valley on five consecutive scoring drives in a 44-37 victory over North Monterey County.
The sophomore dazzled the estimated 1,500 fans in attendance with his strong, accurate arm, fast feet and grit.
"It was exciting as hell," Arnsberg said, making his fifth varsity start.
"We came out shaky, but then our offense started to click.
"It was all downhill from there. They had no chance. After that first TD, we just took it to them."
Electricity was in the air for just the second home game in the school's 16-year history -- and first under the new lights.
Fans began to fill the stadium shortly after school let out. None of them seemed to mind the patchwork facility, which featured borrowed bleachers and scoreboard.
"This is fun," said Golden Valley coach Jon Betschart, standing in a sea of players and fans.
"It's nice to seal our first home game with a win."
Whether the victory changes the football team's stars remains to be seen. But for one night, Golden Valley distanced itself from a one-win season a year ago.
A host of new faces helped make it possible.
Arnsberg finished 6 of 10 for 139 yards passing and three touchdowns, including two to Sanchez.
His 21-yard strike to Trey Askew with 6:59 left in the second quarter gave Golden Valley the lead for good, 20-14.
Arnsberg also had 158 yards on the ground, most of which came on a 71-yard scoring run in the first quarter.
"Did you see Tyler tonight?" linebacker Brandon Ramirez asked playfully. "I'm going to have to get that kid's autograph."
Matt Delora proved to be the perfect compliment to Arnsberg's skittish running style.
The bruising fullback pounded North Monterey County's interior defense, finishing with 174 yards and two touchdowns.
His last -- a 60-yard sprint off tackle -- capped a string of 22 unanswered points by the Golden Valley offense, and made it 38-14 with 7:22 left in the third quarter.
North Monterey County put a scare into the home crowd late, but GV ran out the final 2 minutes, 35 seconds to avenge a 35-26 loss a season ago.
"To get a 'W' in your home opener is huge. We did some positive things, but we also made some mistakes," Betschart said.
"Maturity is the keyword for us. Fortunately, the kids got something to build on."
GOLDEN VALLEY 44,
NORTH MONTEREY COUNTY 37
At Cougar Stadium
N. Monterey Co. 14 0 10 13 -- 37
Golden Valley 6 20 18 0 -- 44
NMC -- Fernando Guevana 64 punt return (kick failed
GV -- Tyler Arnsberg 71 run (kick failed)
NMC -- Joey Reynolds 31 fumble return (Leo Martinez pass to Daniel Martinez)
GV -- Matt Delora 4 run (Arnsberg run)
GV -- Arnsberg 20 pass to Trey Askew (kick failed)
GV -- Arnsberg 64 pass to James Sanchez (run failed)
GV -- Arnsberg 7 run (pass failed)
GV -- Delora 60 run (run failed)
NMC -- Michael Lopez 54 run (Guevana kick)
NMC -- Guevana 29 field goal
GV -- Arnsberg 18 pass to Sanchez (run failed)
NMC -- Lopez 5 run (Guevana kick)
NMC -- Daniel Torres 2 run (pass failed)
Records: Golden Valley 1-0; North Monterey County 0-1.
JV -- Golden Valley won, 25-6.