GV looks to continue Atwater dominance

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 29, 2013 

Growing up as a Golden Valley ball/water boy, Evan Stillahn took losses as hard as any of the players.

When the Cougars saw their season end in the Northern California Playoffs in 2005 at Palo Alto, Stillahn was a mess.

"I remember watching that team that had Marvin Jefferson and Nate Rodriguez," Stillahn said. "I watched them play at Arco. I felt I was part of the team. When we lost to Palo Alto, I was devastated. I think I cried the entire way home."

Stillahn was 7 years old on Feb. 19, 2003. He doesn't remember Golden Valley's 60-42 loss to Atwater that night, but he imagines it probably put him in a foul mood.

Fast forward 10 years and Stillahn is now a junior wearing a Cougars uniform.

It's now been a decade since Golden Valley has lost to Atwater again. A streak that reached 25 games with the Cougars two wins over the Falcons earlier this year.

Atwater (4-2 Central California Conference, 15-8 overall) will try to end that streak tonight when it travels to Cougar Arena.

The game is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m.

"Wow," Atwater coach Tony Hillers said when he learned of the streak. "I believe it. (Keith) Hunter has had some great teams.

"We have to break that streak sooner or later. Hopefully we break it sooner rather than later."

The streak is remarkable when you realize you're talking about two public schools. It's not like two NBA teams, where one star can dominate a down-trodden franchise for 10 years.

Golden Valley and Atwater have both had 80 to 100 different players go through their varsity programs the last 10 years only to see the Cougars win again and again.

"Atwater had a new school open during that time span, they were playing with less players," Hunter said. "It is what it is, we just beat them."

The Cougars haven't just beaten the Falcons during the streak. The average margin of victory during the 25-game run is by over 22 points. We're talking Harlem Globetrotters-Washington Generals territory.

The Falcons haven't come within 10 points of the Cougars since 2007.

"His kids were always mentally tough and they always held that over us," said John Kane, who coached the Falcons from 1998-2010. "We were never able to shake that. There were times when we weren't very good, but they always played us tough.

"They always closed out quarters well, they would get the loose balls, and some times that was the difference."

If ever there were a time for the streak to come to an end, tonight may be the night.

Atwater is coming off impressive wins over Buhach Colony and Merced.

However, Golden Valley (6-0, 19-4) is riding a nine-game winning streak of its own.

"Atwater has always been a football town and a football school," Hillyer said. "It's always been that way and I'm hoping to change the culture."

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