Nipomo High football players are angry heading into the playoffs.
Angry at losing out on their chance to recapture the Northern League title last Friday, angry at how they finished during the loss to the Saints and lastly — angry that the Titans are entering the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs as the No. 15 seed.
“We come to practice with a physical mindset,” said Titans running back Luis-Diego Riquelme before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s been angry since the last time we saw the field. We’re coming back with redemption.”
The Titans (4-6, 2-1 in the Northern League) will aim to redeem themselves after blowing their 19-point lead in the 41-25 loss to Santa Maria by taking on Santa Clarita Golden Valley this Friday at NHS.
Riquelme, who leads the Titans in rushing with 668 yards according to Max Preps, has one goal in mind with the rest of his teammates this Friday once 7 p.m. hits.
“Just finishing,” Riquelme said. “I know we have a lot of potential in finishing, but we lost that fire on Friday. We’re trying to get it back.”
Getting that flair back on its side won’t be an easy task for Nipomo. The Titans are going against a Grizzlies team (5-5, 2-3 in the Foothill League) that’s heavy on playmakers, especially with a future USC Trojan at running back.
De'Gabriel Floyd, who is currently committed to the Pac-12 powerhouse as an outside linebacker for its 2019 class, is the top focal point of the Grizzly offense with his combined 12 touchdowns this season. Titans head coach Tony Dodge admits he’s impressed by Floyd’s highlights.
“He’s very impressive. They do everything to get the ball to him. We have to fly around and swarm to the ball. We have to rally and get 11 guys on that guy,” Dodge said.
Floyd isn’t the only dynamic Grizzly. Wide receiver Jalin Lewis brings similar explosive versatility for Golden Valley – with his combined seven touchdowns as proof. Dodge says GVHS looks nothing like a team that went 5-5.
“They’re a very good, high-quality opponent,” Dodge said. “They’ve got lots of skilled athletes and big boys. They’re 5-5…but they’re record is a little deceiving. It’s a big challenge for us on Friday night. But we’re looking forward to it.”
Defensively, the Grizzlies will aim to turn 6-foot-5, 230-pound Cameron Ravenell loose. The senior defensive end has 19 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 11 sacks – both team highs.
“This team is very good,” Dodge said. “They may not be as good as Lompoc and Bishop Diego, but they (the Titans) have nothing to be scared of. They need to have fun, fly around and play with an attitude.”
The victorious team will take on the winner of the Fountain Valley-Elsinore contest slated for 7:30 p.m. The Nipomo versus Golden Valley match up also has a 7 p.m. kickoff time.