The Green Valley High football team could be peaking at the right time.
The Gators last week won in double overtime. This week, they downed rival Basic 42-0 in the Henderson Bowl. And, most important, Green Valley — unlike earlier in the season — is finally getting healthy.
“We are definitely moving in the right direction,” Green Valley coach Brian Castro said. “Hopefully we get more confidence and are ready to go (for the playoffs). I just told the guys that it’s win or go home. We have to show up and have a great week of practice.”
The Green Valley offense struck early and often against a depleted Basic roster in the annual Henderson Bowl game, using touchdown passes of 71 and 47 yards from Garrett Castro to Ricci Patillo in the initial eight minutes in taking a commanding lead.
Noah Hawthorne had two touchdown runs for the Gators, who host Durango next week in the Desert Region quarterfinals. The Gators earlier this season beat Durango — and beat them convincingly 39-3 — before dropping four of their next five games.
But Garrett Castro was injured, meaning the already inexperienced Green Valley offense would be slowed. They managed just 42 points in those five games.
Those problems appear to be over. Castro also threw a touchdown to Brady Clayton, and Maaliek Duncan added a long touchdown run, teaming with Hawthorne for a potent one-two punch out of the backfield.
“Coming out here and doing our thing in a big rivalry like this does give us confidence for the playoffs,” said Garrett Castro, coach Castro’s son.
The defense, a strength all season, was again productive. Stetler Harms and Alex Steele had interceptions, and when Basic drove the ball to the Green Valley goal-line in the third quarter, the Gators recovered a fumble to keep the shutout in order.
Giving up a late touchdown wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game, which was never in doubt for Green Valley, as injuries derailed the Basic season a few weeks ago. But the momentum of a shutout, coupled with Green Valley’s emerging offense, does give the Gators a little swagger for next week. They are the Southeast League’s No. 2 playoff seed.
“The sky is the limit for this team. We have a lot more football to play,” Garrett Castro said. “We aren’t at our best yet.”