All-out Blitz (Week 7): The Bee’s guide to Valley football
DP COACH: “SURE FEELS A LOT BETTER”
For 23 years, Frank Lemos has been a part of this — a standard-bearing Dos Palos High football program not only in the Central Section, but the state as well.
No one in the state has won more league titles (47), only three have won more section crowns (15) and few have won more games (612) — the second-leading total in section annals.
However, through the first five games this season — Lemos’ second as head coach — the Broncos were winless. And it pained him: “We were getting pounded and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. I live here. I go to stores here. Kids have seen me cry after games.
“Basically, the tail wags the dog around here; football is king.”
Then came a 28-14 conquest last Friday of Mendota, whose 17-game winning streak included a 61-25 battering of Dos Palos last year. And, while the win over the Aztecs didn’t return the Broncos to their throne, it felt like royalty.
An 0-6 start would have been the Broncos’ first since 1929, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
“Scary,” Lemos says. “I did not need that gorilla. It sure feels a lot better after Friday night.”
Starting only four seniors this year, Lemos “guarantees” Dos Palos’ return to prominence next season.
Meanwhile, continuing tonight in a West Sierra League home game against Firebaugh, the Broncos will plow forward minus promising sophomores Dominic Defrancesco (bruised spine) and Matt Elms (fractured vertebra from an automobile accident), who were lost early with season-ending injuries.
“With those two kids,” Lemos says, “I don’t know that we lose two or three of the games we did.”
Maybe the future’s now in Dos Palos, given the talents of such players as sophomore Juan Jiminez (fullback/linebacker) and juniors Noah Croninger (quarterback/cornerback/kicker), Armando Bravo (receiver/safety) and Izzac Suarez (tailback/linebacker).
Lemos says: “I’ve got a cycle of talent that I’m pretty darn excited about.”
- If it comes down to a conversion kick tonight for No. 3 Clovis (5-1) at No. 1 Central (6-0), the Cougars have to like their chances with Jake Poindexter. The senior has made 69 of 71 PATs in his three-year career, including a section-record 63 straight — a streak stopped with his first miss in the second quarter of a 37-6 road rout of Stockdale Sept. 14. “He’s an unbelievable young man who prides himself on being perfect, and he nearly has been,” Clovis coach Rich Hammond says.
- Clovis North senior Carson Guzman set a school record by rushing for 319 yards and two touchdowns in a 53-29 Tri-River Athletic Conference win over Clovis West last Friday.
Milestones source: Barnett.
PLAYERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Marcus McMaryion, Dinuba & Brandon Steele, Kingsburg: It will be a showdown of the Central Sequoia League’s top quarterbacks and teams tonight in Dinuba.
McMaryion, a 6-2, 175-pound junior, hasn’t cooled since flourishing at the regional, state and national levels in 7-on-7 combines in the spring and summer. Waiting his turn following the graduation of three-year starter David Rico, he’s been the section’s most impressive passer — 119 of 188 (.633) for 2,128 yards and 19 TDs without an interception. He’s coming off a school-record 501-yard passing performance in a 27-7 CSL win over Central Valley Christian. He’s flying to Boise State for an unofficial visit in three weeks.
Steele, a 6-3, 230-pound junior, has passed for 950 yards and 10 TDs and rushed for 450 yards, a 6.4 average and another eight scores. The Vikings are 53-6 with three consecutive section titles under his uncle, coach Dave Steele, in five seasons. And they’re 4-1 against Dinuba in that span.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
No. 9 Liberty-Bakersfield (4-2) at No. 7 Frontier (3-3): This Southwest Yosemite League game is second to Clovis vs. Central on the section marquee.
No. 17 Bullard (4-2) at Memorial (3-3): Duel of County/Metro Athletic Conference rivals matches Trenton Barnes and Bullard’s ground game against a Panthers defense led by Fresno State-bound lineman Jaylen Ruiz.
Liberty-Madera Ranchos (6-0) at Sierra (5-1): North Sequoia League title may be on the line with section’s Nos. 1 and 3 D-V teams.
Follow us:Keep up with the action tonight at fresnobee.com/blitz and on Twitter @scoopysports. Coverage will be provided by Andy Boogaard (Clovis at Central) and Nick Giannandrea (Kingsburg at Dinuba). Coaches: Got a score to report? Call (559) 441-6379 or email email@example.com.
By Andy Boogaard