All-out Blitz (Week 3): The Bee’s guide to Valley football
CENTRAL: AN ACHY 3-0
Justin Garza hadn’t coached his first game at Central High this season when he already felt some public wrath: “I heard people say we’re undisciplined and don’t handle adversity well. But we’ve found ways to win.”
The Grizzlies are 3-0 and ranked second in the Central Section and No. 22 in the state entering the latest in a series of attractive nonleague games, against No. 11 El Diamante tonight. And they’ve done it despite losing strong safety Michael Grimes for the season in game 1 and H-back Mallik Williams and middle linebacker Garret Potter for undetermined amounts of time following injuries in games 2 and 3 — all with knee problems.
After a season-opening 44-3 rout of Hanford, the Grizzlies held on for a 10-9 road victory against Liberty-Bakersfield (now No. 6 in the section). And, last Saturday, Central rallied in the final minutes at home for a 25-22 victory over Palos Verdes-Palos Verdes Estates.
“We’ve had to keep our composure and focus in those games, and we did,” says Garza, who came from Sunnyside. “Everybody has their perception, but I just care how it looks like to us. I preach core values every day, and I’m pleased.”
Central and El Diamante have played the past four years, splitting 2-2 with the road team winning each time. That includes a 28-22 Miners victory in 2010 against a Grizzlies team also ranked No. 2 in the section.
Starting quarterback Jake Valdez (ankle) will return for El Diamante after a one-game absence. And the Miners will be challenged to protect him from Central’s Tashon Smallwood, one of the section’s top linemen.
Redwood hosts Hoover tonight at Mineral King Bowl with a chance to do something the tradition-rich, three-time section champion program hasn’t done since 2004 — start a season 3-1.
That was also the last time the Rangers went on to win a West Yosemite League title before El Diamante’s emergence. The Miners have captured the WYL crown five of the past seven seasons after Redwood won it in eight of the previous 14.
And the Rangers enter on a bit of a high after rallying for a 28-18 victory last week against Tulare, a Tulare/Kings county heavyweight that Redwood hadn’t beaten since 2004.
“After we played so poorly at Centennial (a 44-21 loss Aug. 31), to turn it around after that performance was big,” second-year Rangers coach Shaun Ball says. “If we keep improving every week, we have a chance to do pretty well.”
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Elijah Porchia, Mission Oak: Nephew of former Tulare star Dominique Dorsey — the most prolific running back in section history — is flying again after a 1,000- yard, 21-TD season as a sophomore.
The 5-9, 170-pound Porchia last week measured a school-record 331 yards rushing off only 14 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 67-0 rout of Golden West.
“He has a lot of talent, great field vision, great burst and, genetically, he’s got it,” coach Mark Gambini says of the section’s D-IV top-ranked Mission Oak, which will visit Selma tonight.
HE SAID IT
“The players are fine. If you didn’t know our record and watched our practice (Wednesday), you’d think we were 2-1 or 3-0. It was very competitive. We had almost 500 yards against Crespi (in a 49-7 loss last week). We’ve just got to clean up some things and find the right personnel on defense.” — Clovis West coach Mike Parsons on team’s 0-3 record.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
No. 1 Bakersfield (3-0) at Long Beach Poly (1-2): Such a bizarre twist, a long-awaited collision of the winningest football teams in state annals a week after Poly absorbed its worst loss in 96 years — 56-0 to Narbonne-Harbor City.
No. 13 Frontier (1-2) at No. 3 Clovis North (3-0): A year after this matchup was cancelled by lightening, this will be one of three scoreboard-watchers tonight matching teams from the section’s elite leagues — Southwest Yosemite (Titans) and Tri-River Athletic (Broncos). The TRAC is 2-0 so far.
No. 4 Clovis (2-1) at No. 14 Stockdale (1-1): Again, TRAC (Clovis) vs. SWYL (Stockdale), pitting a Cougars defense featuring lineman Nick Nevills, linebackers Adrian Salas and Jordan Harper and deep backs C.J. Broussard and Jason Black against Mustangs running back D.J. Martin.
No. 7 Buchanan (2-0) at No. 6 Liberty-Bak. (2-1): TRAC vs. SWYL, part III. And yet another Kern County sod-buster, Corbin Jountii (482 yards rushing, 8 TDs), attempting to plow against a Bears defense charged by linemen Ben Sorensen and Connor Martinez, and safety Adam Soesman.
Memorial (1-2) at No. 5 Garces (2-1), Saturday: Latest Holy Bowl has Garces as a prohibitive favorite, but Panthers coach Anthony Goston likes the immediate future: “We’re young, but this is going to pay off big time as we should be very good in 2013.”
Follow us: Keep up with the action tonight at fresnobee.com/blitz and on Twitter @scoopysports. Coverage will be provided by Andy Boogaard (El Diamante at Central) and Nick Giannandrea (Mission Oak at Selma). Coaches: Got a score to report? Call (559) 441-6379 or email email@example.com.
By Nick Giannandrea and Andy Boogaard