If you’re looking for a compelling league title race to follow this season, you might not find a better one in the Central Section than the Central Sequoia League where all five teams have a realistic shot at winning the league championship.
And the league campaign commences with two teams considered the top two title contenders squaring off at Dinuba’s Claud Hebert Field — Central Valley Christian (4-1) and Dinuba (3-3).
Game time is 7:30 p.m.
CVC has the highest rating among CSL teams in the Calpreps.com Central Section rankings.
Dinuba (3-3) had the most formidable non-league schedule amongst the CSL contingent, as two of the Emperors’ losses were to section title contenders (Tulare Union and Hanford).
CVC’s primary strength is its running game. The Cavaliers are averaging nearly 230 yards rushing per game, led by Kolin Stock (825 yards, 10 touchdowns).
The Calpreps.com computer foresees a 20-14 CVC win.
Game of the week within county lines might be Exeter (5-1) taking on Selma (5-1) at Monarch Stadium (game time is 7 p.m.). Calpreps is predicting a 28-27 Exeter win.
Monarchs have been the newest sensation in Tulare County with the introduction of freshman quarterback Alec Trujillo, who has has thrown for seven touchdowns and 567 yards in 64 attempts. The Monarchs scored a combined 79 points in Trujillo’s two games as the starter — a 41-24 win over Mission Oak and a 38-7 win over Wasco. Julian Andalon has recorded 11 receptions for 265 yards and 3 TDs with Trujillo at quarterback.
Selma might be the section’s most improved team under first-year head coach Matt Logue. After opening the season with a 38-28 loss to Kerman, the Bears reeled off four wins where they outscored their competition 197-29 in that span. But what really grabbed attention was a 39-0 victory over Golden West that extended Selma’s winning streak to five straight games. Balanced offensive attack is averaging nearly 350 yards of total offense per game. Sophomore QB J.R. Ramirez has thrown for 887 yards and 11 TDs.
Thursday Night EYL Fever: East Yosemite League action starts today with a pair of games. Tulare Western (2-3) hosts Delano (2-3) at Bob Mathias Stadium (Game time is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, but is most likely to begin near 7:30 p.m.), and Mission Oak (2-3) takes on Porterville (1-4) at Granite Hills High School. Critical game for both Tulare schools, especially Tulare Western, in terms of nailing down a spot for the Central Section Division III playoffs (the Mustangs and Hawks both have to win three league games to advance to the postseason).
At halftime of its Sept. 25 homecoming game against Madera, Tulare Western (2-3) looked like a viable Division III contender, owning a 24-0 lead over the Coyotes. But since the second half started of that game, it’s been a complete nightmare for the Mustangs — the opposing team has scored 84 unanswered points. Madera rallied for a 45-24 win, and Selma blanked the Mustangs 39-0 last week. Key issue heading into tonight’s game is the quarterback situation for Tulare Western. Will the Mustangs go with sophomore Damarin Patterson (306 yards passing, 73 yards rushing) or Mission Oak transfer Andre Aguilar? Sophomore running back tandem of David Alcantar and Mason Bernardo has combined for 527 yards rushing and 3 TDs.
Mission Oak is in unfamiliar territory. The Hawks haven’t had three regular-season losses since going 3-7 in 2010, their first season in the EYL. Mission Oak has scored 58 points over its last two games. Hawk senior QB Trey McJunkin is among county leaders with 683 yards passing and 9 TD passes. Senior running back Jeffrey de Macabalin leads the team with 407 yards rushing. McJunkin’s top target is senior Michael Villa (17 catches, 333 yards). Top priority for the Hawks defense is trying to contain Porterville senior running back Isaiah Jones. Porterville may just have one win — and it was a significant one, a 28-27 win over Dinuba — but Jones has consistently rushed for well over 100 yards. Calpreps is projecting a very competitive contest, Porterville 28, Mission Oak 27.
Fireworks Show: Tulare Union (5-0) is the clear favorite to win the 2015 EYL championship after a dominant run through its non-league slate, and it begins its EYL campaign Friday night against Monache (1-4) at Bob Mathias Stadium. En route to sharing the 2014 EYL crown with Mission Oak, the Redskins averaged nearly 40 points per league game. Expect even more scoring proclivity in 2015. Romello Harris is among state leaders with 1,190 yards rushing. He’s averaging 8.7 yards per carry to go with 15 rushing TDs. Sophomore Kazmier Allen has 501 yards from scrimmage and four touchdown. Monache is losing by an average margin of 26.5 points per game over its four losses. The Marauders did pick up a win last week with a 21-14 decision over North. Calpreps is calling for a 52-13 Tulare Union win.
WYL favorites invade Visalia, Part I: After recording its first win of the season last week with a 17-8 victory over Golden West, Redwood (1-5) has the daunting task of trying to slow down Hanford (6-0, 2-0) at Mineral King Bowl.
Hanford is leading the Central Section with a 45.5 points-per-game scoring average. The Bullpups’ balanced offensive attack is led by senior running back Joseph McDaniel (875 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns) and junior quarterback Ryan Johnson (64.4 completion rate, 13 TDs, 2 INTs, 1,006 yards). Hanford is ranked No. 7 amongst the state’s Division III teams by CalHiSports. Justin Williams, returned from an ankle injury last week, and he’s the Rangers’ primary offensive weapon. The senior running back leads the team with 401 yards rushing, 199 yards receiving, an 8.5 yards-per-carry average and six total touchdowns. Hanford won last year’s meeting, 35-21, and Calpreps is projecting a 48-21 Bullpup win.
WYL favorites invade Visalia, Part II: Defending WYL champion Lemoore (4-2, 2-0) visits Golden West (2-3, 0-1) Friday night. Since opening the season 1-2, Lemoore has kicked it into gear over the last three games — especially against WYL competition (defeating Redwood 41-6 and Hanford Wet 42-0). Lemoore features a ground attack that has four players with over 100 yards rushing, led by senior Trey Perryman (282 yards, 3 TDs). Key player for the Tigers is senior QB Logan Ahlin. Ahlin has thrown for 736 yards and 13 TDs without an interception in 59 total attempts.
His top two throwing targets are seniors Reggie Davis (22 catches, 388 yards, 5 TDs) and Allen Perryman (19 catches, 349 yards, 7 TDs). Key for Golden West in keeping this game competitive is to muster a game-controlling running game. The Trailblazers have two of the area’s better running backs in Cristian Canales and Gonzalo Rodriguez. Calpreps is projecting a 41-7 Lemoore win.
Kings County Travels: Mt. Whitney (3-2, 1-0) needs two more wins to secure a spot for the Central Section Division III playoffs. One of the Pioneers’ better chances for a win over the next five weeks occurs Friday night with a visit to Hanford’s Neighbor Bowl to take on Hanford West (1-5, 0-2). Mt. Whitney junior QB Isaiah Salazar has accounted for 10 touchdowns (six passing, four rushing) in five starts with 802 yards passing. Nate Aleman and Jose Cisneros have combined for 43 catches for 692 yards and five touchdowns. Aleman has five of the Pioneers’ 11 interceptions. Calpreps.com is projecting a 40-14 Mt. Whitney win. Pioneers won last year’s meeting against Hanford West, 48-27.
Bye Week: El Diamante (2-4).