Dominant defensive front helps Mountain Lions keep ‘The Real SV’ trophy

Sierra Vista football coach John Foss was hoping to build his 2017 squad around his massive defensive front.

On Friday night, that defensive front showed it could be a dominant force in the Class 4A Southwest League as the Mountain Lions shut out Spring Valley, 41-0.

The win allows Sierra Vista (2-1, 1-0) to keep “The Real SV” trophy for another season.

“They were right on the ball all night,” Foss said. “They were gang tackling, and they really got after the ball and limited Spring Valley tonight. We also run a lot of misdirection with our offense, so I definitely think that helped our defense tonight. We see it in practice every day.”

Sierra Vista held the Grizzlies to 136 yards of total offense — 48 of which came on a long pass with the first half winding down. The Mountain Lions defensive front harassed Spring Valley quarterback Sylo Staton all night, sacking him three times.

“It was very important, this is our rivalry for ‘The Real SV,’ so it took a lot of heart for us to come out here and dominate them,” defensive tackle Isaiah Palelei said. “We wanted this win, so we came out and we dominated on the field.

“All of the credit goes to the coaches. We have great coaches. They’ve been coaching us since we were little, without them, we would know nothing.”

To cap off the dominating performance, senior linebacker Kaika Faatiliga returned an interception 40 yards for a defensive score for Sierra Vista, which led 14-0 at halftime.

“It’s nice to get a league win,” Foss said. “The kids played hard. In the first half, we had a lot of penalties, but in the second half we played much better for the most part. … Hopefully, this will help set the table for us being successful in the league.”

While the defense was impressive, the Mountain Lions’ offense was just as dominant, amassing 319 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Senior running back Isaiah Zavala, who stepped in for starting running back Bryan LaGrange, led the Mountain Lions on the ground with 123 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

“With Bryan out this week, the rest of the guys really stepped up. They really did a good job,” Foss said.

The Mountain Lions were able to take control of the game early when quarterback Trevor Gentner connected with Kevin McCray on touchdown passes of 31 and 23 yards.

In the second half, the Mountain Lions started to grind down the Grizzlies defense. Fullback Taelase Gaoteote scored two touchdown runs to push Sierra Vista’s lead to 28-0 at the end of the third quarter.

Marquelle Diggs caught four passes for 71 yards to lead Spring Valley (2-2, 0-1).