Golden West High’s quest for a state championship came to an abrupt end Saturday night.
By the second quarter.
The Trailblazers surrendered a touchdown on each of their first four drives on defense as McClymonds-Oakland put the game away early en route to a 42-12 victory in the CIF State Division 5-AA Championship.
“It was a very good football team that came in and whooped us a little bit,” said coach Paul Preheim, who completed his seventh season at Golden West.
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The stands on the home side of Groppetti Automotive Visalia Community Stadium were crammed to see if Golden West could complete its improbable postseason run with a state title.
Two weeks ago, the Blazers (12-3) captured their first Central Section championship.
Then Golden West got the best of Big Bear 41-21 in a state regional final.
But McClymonds (14-0), which a year ago won the Division 5-A title, proved too big, too fast and too focused on the championship stage.
And it didn’t matter that McClymonds was on the road, playing in a stadium where Golden West had averaged 44.6 points.
Golden West and its run-oriented wing-T offense simply couldn’t go anywhere.
And the Blazers defense was vulnerable to big play after big play.
“We always said there’s one thing that can beat the Wing-T: And that’s size, speed and strength,” Preheim said. “They were bigger, faster, stronger.
“I don’t know how many people they have that’s going to play college. We don’t have anyone that’s going to play in college.”
After forcing Golden West to punt on its opening offensive drive, McClymonds marched 65 yards and scored on a 4-yard slant from Emoreea Fountain to Charles Alberty.
Then after another Golden West punt, McClymonds broke loose for a 40-yard run to set up Jarmar Julien’s 2-yard TD run.
It was a similar outcome on the next two drives.
Golden West punted.
McClymonds scored on a 60-yard pass.
Golden West punted again.
McClymonds scored on a 58-yard pass.
Capping the first half, McClymonds forced a fumble and returned it 55 yards to make it 35-0.
McClymonds has won 25 straight dating to last season.
Golden West finally got on the board with a defensive score, a sack, strip and fumble recovery in the end zone cutting the deficit to 42-6.
And by the time the Blazers offense managed to finally put up points on an 8-yard run, only 3 minutes 43 seconds remained.
Blazers running back Gonzalo Rodriguez, who topped 2,000 rushing yards for the season and 5,200 in his career, ran for 123 yards on 40 carries.
“Tonight, it was just another experience to play a bigger team like that,” Rodriguez said. “They’re physical guys and they have a bunch of athletes.
“We’re still celebrating. No doubt. We made it this far. … To say that we made it this far and we made history for our city, it’s a blessing. No matter what anyone says. They can’t take that away from us.”
Preheim echoed those sentiments.
“Remember the season,” Preheim added. “We can’t let this loss take us out of what we did all year.
“So proud of these guys and the coaches. Amazing year, amazing season. Don’t let one night ruin it.”