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Golden Valley went from 0-10 to winning season. Now: ‘This year is about proving ourselves’

Golden Valley hoping to prove last year’s success wasn’t a fluke

Golden Valley is hoping to build off last year's success. Cougars looked impressive during their scrimmage on Friday night against Los Banos.
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Golden Valley is hoping to build off last year's success. Cougars looked impressive during their scrimmage on Friday night against Los Banos.

It was the last play of Friday night’s football scrimmage between Golden Valley and Los Banos at Veterans Stadium. It would have been easy to check out, take a play off, turn your attention to next week’s season-opener.

Not for Golden Valley senior linebacker Ryan Nunes.

Nunes had one of the highlight hits of the night as he slammed into a Los Banos running back before the Tigers’ quarterback could hand him the ball.

It was the kind of hit that lights up your sideline.

Nunes made it loud and clear Golden Valley has a mission this season.

“We want to prove to everyone that last year wasn’t a fluke,” Nunes said. “This year is about proving ourselves.”

Golden Valley made an unbelievable jump from a winless 0-10 season in 2017 to making the playoffs last year, finishing with a respectable 6-5 record in Rick Martinez’s first season as the Cougars head coach.

It was Golden Valley’s first playoff appearance in 11 years and the first time a Cougars team had hosted a postseason game on campus.

Now the Cougars want to carry the momentum from last season into this year beginning with next week’s opener at Livermore.

“Last year our rally cry was 0-10 so we got beyond that,” Martinez said. “We won a couple games, got in the playoffs and now our goal is to not just get there, but to win one or maybe two and keep moving forward. It’s part of the process. We kind of picked up the ball where we dropped it in the fall and the players responded. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

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Golden Valley quarterback Jonathan Peredia rolls out to the right before delivering a pass against Los Banos during a scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 at Veterans Stadium. Shawn Jansen Sjansen@mercedsun-star.com

Friday’s scrimmage was a good indication the Cougars are headed in the right direction.

The offense put together three scoring drives as the two teams each ran 36 plays, rotating after 12 plays by each offense. Cougars quarterback Jonathan Peredia hooked up for touchdown catches with Avery Townsel and Zack Fernandez.

Meanwhile, the Cougars defense kept Los Banos’ offense out of the end zone all night.

“I just think the last couple years we’ve been heavy one side of the ball or the other, whether it be an offense or defensive unit stronger than the other,” Martinez said. “I think this year we’re a little more balanced. We’re getting guys who want to be part of it, so we’re getting our two-way guys off the field. That’s really where we want to be.”

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Golden Valley running back Alexis Granados runs the ball against Los Banos during a scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 at Veterans Stadium in Merced, Calif. Shawn Jansen Sjansen@mercedsun-star.com

Players are eager to see what they can do coming off last year’s success. With the bulk of the starters returning on both sides of the ball they feel they are further along than they were at this point last season.

“We have a lot more hype and energy at practice,” Peredia said. “Our tempo at practices is a lot quicker. There’s no arguments with players or players and coaches. Everything is a lot smoother.”

“All of us want to be better,” Nunes said. “The other teams aren’t going to underestimate us this year. We’re not going to get teams looking past us. We don’t want to lose again. We want to keep winning.”

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