High School Football

D-IV football finalists needed overtime to decide which would end long title drought

Golden West High is the 2017 Central Section Division IV football champion.
Golden West High is the 2017 Central Section Division IV football champion.

Central Valley Christian High had waited more than a decade.

Golden West had waited forever.

So a little overtime certainly was no big deal for these two title-starved Visalia schools.

Trailblazers senior running back Gonzalo Rodriguez finally decided it, cutting through the defense for a 16-yard touchdown run to lift Golden West (11-2) to its first Central Section football championship by beating the Cavaliers 27-21 in the Division IV final Friday night at Groppetti Stadium.

“Our offensive coordinator, who called a great game, dialed up an inside run to the guy that has carried us on his back for three years and he wasn’t going to be denied,” Golden West coach Paul Preheim said of Rodriguez. “Offensive line blocked very well and he had to break two attempted tackles before he broke free.

“It was a championship run.”

CVC had the ball first in overtime and appeared to score a touchdown. But a holding call erased Jaalen Rening’s touchdown run, and the Cavaliers failed to convert on fourth down from the Golden West 32.

The fourth quarter was filled with dramatics, too.

Top-seeded Golden West took a 21-14 lead on Kai Caudell’s 64-yard run.

But with 17 seconds left and facing fourth-and-1, JJ Lino found Tanner Rocha on a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game. Rocha made the catch while falling down backward into the end zone.

CVC (10-3) has won four titles, but the last came in 2005 in D-V.

Teams await state regional playoff pairings, with the California Interscholastic Federation set to announce the matchups Sunday.

Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, @agalaviz_TheBee