The Apple Valley football team dominated its way to winning the program’s second-ever Mojave River League title.
The Sun Devils defeated the Oak Hills 35-7 on Saturday morning, handing the Bulldogs the biggest league loss in program history.
This was no different for Apple Valley, who finished 4-0 in MRL action with a 179-21 point differential. Apple Valley last won the MRL title in 2017.
“This is a testament to the senior class. We rode with them, piggy-backed off of them, even as a coaching staff,” first-year Apple Valley head coach Kyle Godfrey said. “Their mindset the entire year was to dominate every opponent that we came across and we talked about it and they acted on it.”
Overall, this is Apple Valley’s third league title in program history and the coaches proclaimed after the game that this team is the greatest team the school has ever fielded. Statement wins over both Oak Hills and Serrano, the two usual powerhouses of the MRL, may have proven that.
“Serrano and Oak Hills have that prestige, that aura around them. We wanted to take that away and our goal was to make Apple Valley that,” Godfrey said.
The Sun Devils set the tone early at Bulldog Stadium. Apple Valley started the game with the ball and ran 13 consecutive run plays to much success. Those running plays, plus three offsides penalties drawn by a hard-count, fueled the Sun Devils drive down the field.
Junior quarterback Jayden Max Denegal finished the drive with a 14-yard scramble touchdown to cap the 11-minute opening drive.
“We wanted to set the tone right away. Whatever the defense gave us we were going to take,” Godfrey said.
The long drive by the offense helped set the tone for the defense as well. On Oak Hills’ third play of the game, senior cornerback Marquis Cato intercepted the pass and took it back 20 yards for the touchdown. This was one of four interceptions for the Sun Devils defense and the first of two for Cato.
Cato is one of the senior leaders that Godfrey and the rest of the team leaned on and he made sure that he would remember his last league game for the rest of his life.
“I’m definitely going to remember this forever,” Cato said. “It is such a great feeling, to have a lot of these juniors and sophomores experience this and know they’re going to have the same feeling coming into next year. I love these dudes. Sun Devil Football is not a program, it’s a family.”
Apple Valley scored on all three of its first-half drives, and with Cato’s interception, went into halftime with a 28-0 lead. Oak Hills had negative seven yards of offense in the first half.
The second half was closer. Oak Hills was able to get on the board on the first play of the fourth quarter via a one-yard touchdown run by Prince Thomas. Apple Valley was held scoreless in the second half until an 11-yard pass from Denegal to Michael Wong in the fourth quarter.
Denegal finished with two passing touchdowns while Kaleb Most and Damien Guillen both had a rushing touchdown each.
The Bulldogs wrap up MRL play next week against Sultana while Apple Valley has a non-league game to finish its season.
The Sun Devils travel to play Culver City next Friday looking to finish the abbreviated season a perfect 5-0.
“We get to give these kids a Friday night game, which is exciting,” Godfrey said. “The goal for every desert team should be to go down and prove that there is talent up here, coaching up here, athletes up here. Any time a desert school can go down and beat a team down the hill it is huge for the desert as a whole.”
A. Valley 7 21 0 7 — 35
Oak Hills 0 0 0 7 — 7
A — Denegal 14 run (Weinberg kick)
A — Cato 20 interception (Weinberg kick)
A — Peratt 6 pass from Denegal (Weinberg kick)
A — Guillen 42 run (Weinberg kick)
O — Thomas 1 run (Lopez kick)
A — Wong 11 pass from Denegal (Weinberg kick)