Last year, fans became accustomed to seeing Deer Valley steamroll opponents in grand fashion, as the team finished its undefeated season with an average margin of victory of 26.2 points. That team didn't play a game that was decided by fewer than 14 points until the North Coast Section playoffs, when it fell to Pittsburg 26-23 in overtime.
"It was a close game and I think it showed my team exactly how important it is to do things correctly," said Wolverine head coach Rich Woods. "The great thing is that we made a lot of small mental errors and those can all be corrected."
Senior running back Sonni Woods had an exceptional game in his first go as a varsity starter, rushing for 116 yards on 24 carries and scoring both of Deer Valley's touchdowns. Teammate Devin Le'Gall added 74 yards on 15 carries, while Traysean Alexander picked up 22 yards on 12 touches.
Alexander also made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball, as the defensive back recorded both a 9-yard fumble recovery and a 24-yard interception return for a Wolverine defense that allowed Berkeley a paltry 96 yards of total offense.
The Deer Valley defense managed to hold the Yellow Jackets scoreless through three quarters, but Berkeley finally broke through in the fourth quarter when quarterback Michael Williams connected with wide receiver Anastacio Zamba on 39-yard touchdown pass. But after the Yellow Jackets punched in the two-point conversion to narrow the Deer Valley lead to 14-8, the Wolverines were able to grind down the clock to secure the win.
Last year's Deer Valley squad allowed just 10.5 points per game during the regular season, racked up 243 return yards on 20 interceptions and recovered 13 fumbles, impressive stats that often went overlooked thanks to the team's blitzkrieg offense. If this year's defensive unit is able to string together a streak of performances on par with its domination of Berkeley, it certainly won't be overlooked for long.
"We held Berkeley to three first downs and 96 yards of total offense, and I don't think that's going to happen to them again this season," Woods said of his team's defensive effort. "When we're organized and motivated, that's how we expect our guys to play."
The Wolverines (1-0) play their home opener at Wolverine Stadium on Friday, Sept. 14 when they host Granada (1-0). The Matadors roll into Antioch hot off a week-one 61-0 blowout of Irvington. Varsity kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.