Here’s a capsule look at the Central Section quarterfinal games involving Tulare County teams:
•No. 5 Sunnyside (7-3) at No. 4 Tulare Union (9-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, Bob Mathias Stadium
Sunnyside update: Wildcats finished second to Fresno in the North Yosemite League. Since being blanked 7-0 by El Diamante in their season opener, the Wildcats are averaging 39 points per game. Wildcats have one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the Central Section — averaging 230.5 yards passing per game, and 181.1 yards rushing per game. Junior QB Nate Hughes has thrown for 16 TDs to go with a 54.0 completion rate (he does have 11 INTs). Sunnyside likes to spread the wealth around. Six players had at least three rushing TDs, and seven players hauled in TD catches. Leading rusher is junior Ricky Valderrama (650 yards). Top two throwing targets are Ovell Patterson (36 catches, 437 yards, 7 TDs) and Jesus Castaneda (36 catches, 573 yards, 3 TDs).
Tulare Union update: Key concern for the Redskins is the health of senior running back Romello Harris (1,943 yards rushing, 9.6 yards-per-carry average, 25 rushing TDs). Harris suffered a knee injury against Porterville on Oct. 23, and played sparingly in the Bell Game. Without Harris, Redskins’ offensive potency suffered in their 20-17 Bell Game loss to Tulare Western. Tulare Union has arguably the section’s best reserve running back in sophomore Kazmeir Allen (1,011 yards, 12 TDs). Allen became just the third sophomore in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards (Harris and Dominique Dorsey were the first two to accomplish the feat). Allen is averaging 9.1 yards per carry to go with 12 rushing TDs. Junior QB Josh Guerrero is among section leaders with a 61.6 completion rate. He’s thrown for 1,548 yards and 12 TDs. Sophomore WR Emoryie Edwards has 62 catches for 837 yards and 10 TDs. Redskins are in the Division II quarterfinals for a second straight year. They’re looking to make it to the semifinal round for the first time since 2009.
The skinny: Redskins and Wildcats meet for the second straight year in the playoffs. Tulare Unoin won last year’s first-round Division II meeting in convincing fashion, 55-18. Harris rushed for 230 yards and 5 TDs to lead the way. Guerrero had a rough game (3 INTs, 143 yards). If Harris doesn’t play, it’s essential for Guerrero to have a quality game. The other previous playoff meeting between the two teams occurred in 2004 with Tulare Union winning a first-round game, 35-28. Winner advances to the semifinals to face the winner of No. 1 Ridgeview-No. 9 West. Calpreps’ projection is for a Redskin win — Tulare Union 41, Sunnyside 27.
•No. 7 El Diamante (5-5) at No. 2 Lemoore (8-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, Lemoore High School
El Diamante update: Miners earned a ticket to the playoffs with their 28-10 Battle for the Saddle win over Golden West on Nov. 6. El Diamante is at its best when it’s playing El Diamante football — game-controlling power run game and sound defense. Leading the offense is senior running back Keylan Liles (836 yards, 10 TDs). T.J. Wheeler leads the team with 66 tackles. Nolan Montgomery has picked off three passes to go with 45 tackles.
Lemoore update: The West Yosemite League champion Tigers have been one of the top four teams in the entire Central Section during their current seven-game winning streak, which started with a 21-19 win over Sanger on Sept. 18. Tigers feature two of the section’s top playmakers in receiver/defensive back Allen Perryman (31 catches, 503 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs) and Reggie Davis (36 catches, 569 yards, 8 TDs). Senior QB Logan Ahlin has thrown for 23 TDs and 1,435 yards in just 127 attempts. He’s among state leaders with an NFL-formula passer rating of 140.6.
The skinny: Can El Diamante have a quick turnaround when it comes to Lemoore? In their WYL meeting here on Oct. 30, Lemoore defeated El Diamante 35-0. The game was scoreless for much of the first half, but Lemoore dominated once it got on the scoreboard. Winner faces the No. 3 Sanger/No. 6 Garces winner (Sanger is a heavy favorite). The Calpreps computer believes it will be a similar score — Lemoore 35, El Diamante 3.
•No. 6 Tulare Western (8-3) at No. 3 Tehachapi (7-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, Tehachapi
Tulare Western update: East Yosemite League champion Mustangs scored their first playoff win since 2004 with last week’s 41-7 first-round win over No. 11 North. Tulare Western is 6-0 with junior Andre Aguilar as the starting quarterback, averaging 34.5 points per game over the last six games. Aguilar has accounted for over 1,100 yards of total offense and 12 TDs in his six starts. Sophomore running back David Alcantar leads the team in yards rushing (606) and rushing TDs (8). Top two receivers are Josh Portillo (27 catches, 426 yards, 3 TDs) and Jesse Macias (30 catches, 400 yards, 5 TDs). Senior LB Elijah Alonzo has 22 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 2 INTs, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Senior kicker Cameron Horsting is among section leaders in field goals (10) and touchbacks on kickoffs. Ten of Horsting’s last 12 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.
Tehachapi update: Warriors finished second to Ridgeview in the South Yosemite League. the Warriors will run the ball about 90 percent of the time. Senior QB Lars Olofson only had eight completions on the year. Season-high attempts was eight (averaged a little less than four). Leading rusher is junior running back Keyron Scott (1,351 yards, 10.3 yards-per-carry average, 15 TDs). Olofson is second on the team with seven rushing TDs. Warriors average 276.1 yards rushing per game.
The skinny: Mustangs looking to make some more history with their first road playoff win since 1986. Weather isn’t expected to be too much of a factor — it snowed earlier this week in Tehachapi. Key for Tulare Western is slowing down Tehachapi’s running game. If the Mustangs can prohibit the Warriors from dictating the pace of the game, they have an outstanding shot of advancing to the semifinals. Winner takes on the No. 2 San Joaquin Memorial-No. 7 South game in the semifinals. Calpreps’ projection — Tehachapi 28, Tulare Western 20.
•No. 9 Kerman (6-4) at No. 1 CVC (8-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, CVC High School
Kerman update: Lions advanced to the quarterfinals with a 28-27 win over No. 8 Taft. The X-factor for the Lions is sophomore quarterback Sean Chambers. Chambers is Mr. Everything for this offense, accounting for 16 total TDs. He threw for 1,094 yards, and rushed for a team-high 816 yards during the regular season. The Lions averaged over 200 yards rushing per game. Kerman opened the season with a 38-28 win over Selma.
CVC update: The top-seeded Cavaliers are aiming for their first Central Section championship since 2005, and they’re in the driver’s seat given that all of their section playoff games will be at home. The Central Sequoia League champions have scored at least 24 points in nine of their 10 games, and in six straight. Senior RB Kolin Stock is a top Bob Mathias Award candidate with 1,853 yards rushing (6.9 yards-per-carry average) and 23 TDs. CVC is averaging 257.1 yards rushing per game. Connor Paden has 906 all-purpose yards with 8 TDs. Bradley Taylor has 14 tackles for loss
The skinny: CVC could be in position to host a regional championship game if it can win the Division IV championship (only section champions are considered for regional title games). CVC isn’t ranked on the CalHiSports’ Division IV state poll, but it’s starting to turn heads elsewhere around the state (more on that Tuesday). But the Cavaliers can’t take Kerman lightly. Lions had a solid win over Selma. Calpreps’ prediction — CVC 31, Kerman 14.
•No. 7 Exeter (8-3) at No. 2 Cesar Chavez (9-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, Cesar Chavez High School, Delano
Exeter update: Monarchs advanced to the quarterfinals with a dramatic 52-49 win over defending Division IV champion Liberty-Madera Ranchos last week. The Monarchs have scored at least 40 points in theee straight games. Leading the offensive assault is freshman QB Alec Trujillo. Trujillo has thrown for 1,617 yards and 15 TDs in seven games. He has a 67.4 completion rate and 7 TDs passes to go with 686 yards passing over the last three games. Sophomore running back Anthony Torres leads the team with 853 yards rushing and 10 rushing TDs. Julian Andalon has 10 TD catches amongst his 45 receptions (776 total yards receiving). Garrett Perkinson is among Central Section leaders with 147 tackles.
Cesar Chavez update: Titans are aiming for their second straight trip to the Division IV semifinals. They’ve been outstanding on both sides of the ball this season under head coach Casey Quinn. Junior Deion Perkins has 1,735 yards of total offense, and has thrown for 16 TDs against just 3 INTs. Leading rusher is senior Damian Avila (1,159 yards rushing, 14 TDs). Clemente Montes has 757 yards rushing and 10 TDs. The Titans’ only loss was a 20-17 defeat to Bakersfield Christian that decided the South Sequoia League title.
The skinny: Very intriguing contest for a quarterfinal matchup. Both offenses know how to put points on the board. Game should come down to which defense turns in the best game. The Calpreps computer doesn’t have much faith in the Monarchs — Cesar Chavez 34, Exeter 17.
•No. 5 Kern Valley (8-2) at No. 4 Woodlake (8-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, Leo Robinson Field, Woodlake
Kern Valley update: The Lake Isabella-based Broncs won the High Desert League championship. One of the Bronc’ two losses was a 19-18 defeat to McFarland. Kern Valley defeated Corcoran 39-12 on Oct. 2. Featured running back of a run offense that regularly uses eight to nine backs per game is freshman Jacob Lightner (549 yards, 7 TDs).
Woodlake update: The East Sequoia League champion Tigers are celebrating their first league championship since 1999. Key player in the Tigers’ march to the ESL title is freshman quarterback Robby Stevenson, who is among area leaders in yards passing and touchdowns despite not starting the first five games. Woodlake is averaging nearly 38 points per game with Stevenson under center. If you’re interested in scores against common opponents, Woodlake defeated Corcoran 48-0.
The skinny: Woodlake is ranked No. 5 amongst Division V teams by Calpreps.com, and Kern Valley is No. 8. Calpreps is projecting a competitive game — Woodlake 28, Kern Valley 19. Winner takes on the winner of the No. 1 Immanuel-No. 8 Caruthers quarterfinal. The 28-point total looks like a low estimate given Woodlake’s offensive firepower since Stevenson became the quarterback.
•No. 8 Strathmore (6-5) at No. 1 RFK (7-3)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, RFK, Delano
Strathmore update: Spartans are the No. 8 seed, but are ranked no. 6 in the division by Calpreps. After opening East Sequoia League play 0-2, the Spartans closed the regular season with three straight wins, and opened the playoffs last week with a 21-10 win over No. 9 Riverdale. Strathmore’s defensive prowess has been the key during this four-game winning streak, holding three teams to 10 points or less. Sophomore running back Joseph Garcia leads a run offense that is averaging over 200 yards rushing per game. Garcia carries a 7.8 yards-per-carry average to go with 12 TDs and 978 yards. Victor Ochoa is second on the team with 745 yards rushing and 11 rushing TDs.
RFK update: The defending Division VI champion Thunderbirds finished fourth in the seven-team South Sequoia League. Thunderbirds are averaging 40.5 points per game. Senior RB David Zepeda leads a ground attack that is averaging over 370 yards rushing per game. Zepeda has 1,623 yards rushing and 18 rushing TDs. Rafael Martinez has rushed for 872 yards and 14 TDs. Senior QB Felipe Sandoval has an NFL-formula passer rating of 90.7, he’s averaging 16.3 yards per completion.
The skinny: RFK is the prohibitive favorite to win a second straight section championship. The two teams met on Sept. 4 with RFK winning 49-21. The Calpreps computer is projecting another lopsided Thunderbird win — RFK 44, Strathmore 21.