UPDATED, 10:13 p.m.: Medina under pressure, but he steps away from it and throws for Hanz Harker. He dives. They'll call it a catch across midfield. Big play. Medina hurries to the line, and he'll spike it to stop the clock. Second down. Medina on the move again. Throws. Harker again, with some room to run, and he's up to the 30. Liberty runs to the line again, and Central calls its second timeout. Still 1:22 left, and Patriots getting close to field-goal range. Grizzlies, who have several two-way players, look gassed. Can the Patriots find a way to finish them off?
Jountti carries but gets only one. Now Medina sacked back at the 33. Huge play. Liberty calls its final timeout with 51 seconds left. They need one more big play, then a made field goal. Medina has time, but not that much, and now he's swallowed up. Loss of nine. Hail Mary time. Medina deep for Mariscal, and he's actually open. Central hit him early, and that's pass interference! Wow. But there are two flags on the play. Illegal formation on Liberty, too. Penalties offset, and the Patriots will have to do it again. Only 12 seconds remain, and we're back at the 42.
Central will call its final timeout. Medina has a strong arm and gets this one to the end zone, but it's out of the reach of everyone. Central takes over with 3 seconds left, and the Grizzlies will survive, 10-9.
Stockdale's final drive came up short in Stockton, by the way, and St. Mary's holds on, 31-26. BCHS beat CVC 21-0. Delano 15, Chavez 0. Tehachapi 22, Burroughs 15. Garces up 56-34 late. Centennial up 44-21 late. Ridgeview up 22-14, end of three.
UPDATED, 10:03 p.m.: So third-and-1, and Liberty is going to throw. Deep for Davis. And he makes a diving catch. Wow. Huuuge. And then a throw in the flat to Davis for six more, but now Smallwood makes a huge play in the backfield on Jountti. Four-yard-loss and it's third-and-8. Pass to Davis, who can't spin free and is about three yards short of the first. Liberty will go. Could be the game here.
Medina going downfield again. Hanz Harker tips it, the DB tips it, and it falls to Harker inside the 10 for an immaculate reception — but there's a flag in the backfield. Illegal block, and it's coming back.
Liberty will punt instead, and the snap is fumbled. Mariscal gets the punt off and gets a great bounce, backing central up to its 19. Wilson gets 6, then nothing. third-and-4 from the 25. Wilson never had a chance there. Darren Adjei on a run blitz got him as soon as he got the ball. Central will punt after the clock runs inside of two minutes. Not sure why Liberty didn't use its final timeout there, but by the time they get the ball, there's only 1:45 left. Ball at the Liberty 42.
UPDATED, 9:55 p.m.: So Liberty hasn't caught Central yet because of the kicking game, but there's another quarter to go, and the Patriots just stopped the Grizzlies three-and-out to start the fourth. Central's punt rolls dead down at the 20. Good kick.
So now Liberty's offense could use a sustained drive, something it hasn't had yet tonight. 10:01 showing on the clock. Jountti caught from behind this time, and he loses a yard. Now Anthony Mariscal with a nice burst around right tackle and he gets close. Third-and-2. Jountti stopped short. Fourth-and-1. A Central player is cramping up on literally every other play, so we're slow-going here. Grizzlies might be tired, but Liberty has to execute if it's going to complete a big comeback.
Patriots send the offense out on fourth-and-1. Might just try to pull the Grizzlies offside. No, they're going. And Medina didn't get it, I don't think. But they're marking it right at the spot. First down. By inches either way. Liberty gets the call. Now Jountti for about 7. Medina would have had the first down on the next play, but he slips down a yard short. Third down. Timeout Liberty, their second, with 6:48 on the clock.
UPDATED, 9:44 p.m.: Liberty turning to the running game here, and they pick up a first down and now have a third-and-2 from their 35. Jountti has the first down — and he breaks free! He's gone. Central has speed in that secondary, but Jountti way too much of a head start and no safeties back. Jountti goes 65 yards, the last 60 untouched. And Sullivan has just duffed the PAT. Central maintains a 10-9 lead as the third quarter ends. That deflated the crowd in a hurry.
UPDATED, 9:39 p.m.: Central picks up a first down when Nick Wilson falls forward on third-and-2 for four yards. Illegal man downfield will cost 5. Now it's third-and-4, and Eric Jimenez, who's back in there, is going deep. Way overthrown. Central will punt.
Good punt bounces inside the 10, where Christian Sinnott will pick it up, but he doesn't have much room. Gets out to about the 15. Jountti picks up 3 on first down. We're inside of three minutes in the third quarter, by the way, so crunch time is arriving.
Lompoc held off Frontier 21-14, but that's an impressive battle for the Titans in a tough spot. Tehachapi has scored twice in the final quarter to take a 15-7 lead on Burroughs. Stockdale just finished off a 95-yard TD drive to cut St. Mary's' lead to 28-26 early in the fourth quarter. Good games out there everywhere.
UPDATED, 9:29 p.m.: Another big-time momentum change here. Nick Wilson carries and coughs it up on the first play on the next drive. Adrian Vasquez falls on it for Liberty, and the Patriots are set up at the Central 30 with a chance to tie.
First play for Liberty, though, and Medina is sacked for a 4-yard loss. He hits Davis for about seven on the next snap, which sets up third-and-7. Medina keeps and makes one man miss, but two more are waiting for him. He gets maybe a yard. Fourth down, same spot on the field where Liberty went for it on the previous drive. They'll go again. Medina looking deep for Mariscal, who's open. Dropped it again, though that was a tough catch in the air. Chop-block penalty on Liberty anyway, and Central will decline it. Grizzlies get it at their 27, and the turnover hurts none for the second time.
UPDATED, 9:22 p.m.: Some other scores as the second half kicks off here: Centennial up 35-14 on Redwood at the half. Frontier has just scored twice in the third quarter to pull within 21-14 of a very good Lompoc team on the road. Mira Monte is up — get this — 31-0 at the half at North. How bout them Lions.
And a rip-roaring start to the second half for the Patriots. Kole Harl takes a short kickoff on a bounce and races up the middle to the Liberty 45, then bounces off a tackle and gets up to the 49. Corbin Jountti takes it over right tackle and has a hole and a big gain. The hole was created by a hold, though, and this one is going back almost the hole way. First-and-8 from the Central 49 now. Jountti to the other side and no flag this time. Down to the 31 and another first down.
Medina looking for Anthony Mariscal, who heard footsteps and dropped it. Jountti carries and has nowhere to go. Loses two, and it's third-and-long. Another Central offside penalty is going to make the job easier. Third-and-7 from the 28. Medina looking for Davis. Pass broken up. Fourth down. Interesting call for Tony Mills here. He'll go for it. Play-action, and Central bit. Medina has time and a wide-open Jacob Thomas as he rolls right. First down at the Central 15. Now Medina keeps,. He's quick. 10 yards to the 5 and first-and-goal. Jountti will carry, and a flag. That's holding. Ouch. Back to the 15. Pass in the flat to Davis, who races forward to the 9 before he's pushed out of bounds. Medina keeps and gets nothing on second down, but there's a flag down in the end zone. It's a personal foul on Central. Ouch on the other side. Half the distance, but it remains third-and-goal, now from the 4. Timeout Central.
Big play here. Medina under pressure and will look for Davis. Incomplete. Fourth down. Big stand for Central. Now Alabama commit Cole Mazza snaps and this time, Zack Sullivan boots the 22-yarder through. Lead cut to 10-3.
UPDATED, 9:03 p.m.: Total-yard advantage for Central is 141-43. The individual numbers aren't much prettier for the Patriots, but here they are:
Passing: Central, Eric Jimenez 5-6, 39 yds. Liberty, Josh Medina 4-6, 8 yds.
Rushing: Central, Nick Wilson, 16-84, Michiah Quick 3-11. Liberty, Corbin Jountti 8-18, Anthony Mariscal 2-9, Josh Medina 1-8.
Receiving: Central, Michiah Quick 5-39. Liberty, Kenny Davis 3-15.
UPDATED, 8:48 p.m.: Third-and-3 for Central, and Wilson picks it up. He's up to 79 yards in the first half. Now L.J. Moore, who's in at quarterback, picks up 11, to the Central 48. 2:15 left in the half.
St. Mary's just scored to peek ahead of Stockdale, 21-14. Mustangs hanging tough up there.
Central false-starts, but Moore picks up nine to make it third-and-1. Now he tries to keep again, and Kole Harl has him wrapped up way behind the line of scrimmage. Liberty uses its second timeout to stop the clock.
Chrisitan Sinnott will fair catch the punt back at the Liberty 15, only 42 seconds and one timeout to work with for the Pats. They'll give it to Jountti and hope he breaks one. Not likely, considering what he's done thus far. Central will stop him short twice, and that's that for the half. Central 10, Liberty 0.
UPDATED, 8:39 p.m.: Patriots wisely trying to get Corbin Jountti going, finally, and he picks up 11 on two carries to pick up a first down. Short pass to Davis for three yards, but then Central comes up with a big play, blowing up a screen pass to Mariscal. Loss of seven, but it's followed by an offside penalty on Central. Third-and-9 after all of that. Medina to pass. Steps up in the pocket. Gonna run. Makes one man miss and he's down just short of the sticks. Fourth and one, and Liberty will go. Central will call timeout.
Obviously a huge play here. And Central jumps. Wow. Another mistake from the Grizz, which is letting Liberty hang around. First down at the Central 48. Jountti bounces off tackle and gets only a couple. Flag down again. Holding. First-and-20. Flag down AGAIN. False start. First-and-25. Three penalties without a play. Jountti stopped for a loss. Short pass and a Jountti run get about 10 yards back, but the Pats will have to punt. Central's ball at its 36, 4:22 in the half.
Centennial is blitzing Redwood, 35-7, just two minutes into the second quarter. How impressive was Mission Viejo last week then? Holy moly. Golden Valley coming back on Garces; 14-13 Rams now after a quarter.
UPDATED, 8:26 p.m.: Patriots make a couple of big defensive plays to snuff out this drive, and Central will have to settle for a field goal from almost the exact same spot that Sullivan had his blocked a few minutes ago.
Arkelon Hall boots it off-balance, but it wobbles true and through. 10-0 Central. Grizzlies playing too well for their mistakes to matter.
UPDATED, 8:22 p.m.: Central moving quickly, with Jimenez hitting Quick for 6 yards and then getting a big run weaving up the middle from Nick Wilson. Then a repeat: Jimenez to Quick for 8, and Wilson for the first down. He's up to 59 yards already. And here's a personal foul on Liberty. Tone it down, both teams.
From the Patriots 35, it's Quick on an end-around for a first down. Now Wilson up the middle, another big hole, and frankly, the Patriots look beaten at this point. First down at the Liberty 12.
Good time for the end of the quarter as far as the home team is concerned. Central leads 7-0 and looking for more.
Elsewhere, Garces leads Golden Valley 14-0 even without the suspended players. West leads Porterville 7-6 after a quarter, and Burroughs continues to lead Tehachapi 7-0, now at the half.
UPDATED, 8:16 p.m.: Not a good start for Liberty on offense. Josh Medina hits Kenny Davis for 8 yards, but then Corbin Jountti fumbles out of bounds and loses a yard on his first carry and Medina is incomplete to the far side on third-and-3. Fourth down, and after the Grizzlies had the ball for nearly seven minutes, Liberty will have to give it back in 50 seconds. That must have been too fast for Central, because the Grizz calls a timeout.
Elsewhere, Centennial has roared to a 21-0 lead on Redwood, and Mira Monte up 6-0 early on North.
L.J. Moore and Miciah Quick back to return. The kick is high but short — and Moore and Quick ran right into each other, and the ball is free! Liberty jumps on it at the Central 35. What a break for the Patriots.
Central will compound the mistake by committing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 15 more yards, and it's first down at the 19. Anthony Mariscal picks up 8 on the next play, and it's suddenly second-0and-2 from the 11. Incomplete pass, nearly picked off by Quick, who lets the entire world now by flapping his arms as wide as they go. Now on third down, Jountti has nowhere to go. Grizzlies D steps up big. And Zack Sullivan will come on for a 29-yard field goal attempt. It's blocked. And Tramell Johnson caught the ball in the air and can return it. He has a big return, but there was a block in the back in there, so Central will settle for the ball at its 13.
UPDATED, 8:05 p.m.: With a couple of dangerous Central return men waiting, Zack Sullivan provides Liberty with a touchback, to start us off. Eric Jimenez throws short right to Michiah Quick, but there's a penalty on the play. Illegal procedure on the near side will cost the Grizzlies five yards. Nick Wilson goes over right tackle to get the 5 back and then some. 8 yards will set up second-and-7. Now Jimenez complete to Quck right at the sticks. Third and inches. Wilson doesn't have much room, but he has enough. First down at the 31. Jimenez has Darius Green open over the middle but throws behind him. Incomplete. Now Wilson bounces it outside and sheds a couple of tackles to pick up about 15 and a first down. Now a personal foul on Liberty, too. Poor tackling and discipline, and the Grizzlies have at the Patriots' 40, just like that.
Miciah Quick takes it end around for about 3. Central, quick and deceptive, reminds you a bit of Bakersfield on offense. Here Jimenez keeps and gets inside the 30 for another first down. Derek Frost comes up big from his linebacker spot to stone Wilson at the line of scrimmage, and it's second-and-10. Now Wilson has little room again, and it's third-and-9 from the 25. Scratch that. Jimenez had the ball, but the refs also thought Wilson had it and inadvertantly blew it dead. Wow. We'll replay it, second-and-10. On try No. 2, Jimenez rolls out and hits Quick on the run. He grabs the first down before running out of bounds. First down at the 14. Wilson picks up 5, then not much on second down. Third-and-about 5 from the Liberty 9. Wilson lined up at fullback and gets the ball. Good push, and he's got it down to the 3. First and goal.
Central trying to finish off a long drive with six instead of three. But here's a false start, and that makes it first and goal from the 8. Jimenez throws — and nearly picked off by Frost, but it's off his hands. Flag down anyway, pass interference, and that will give Central 4 back. Wilson gets the call to the 2, gets the call again, and he's in. 14-play drive took up 6:56, and the Grizzlies are up 7-0 after Arkelon Hall's extra point.
UPDATED, 7:37 p.m.: First score of the night comes from Ridgecrest, where Burroughs has its first points of the season after being shut out last week. The Burros have an early 7-0 lead on Tehachapi.
Here, we've just had the pregame coin toss. Liberty, wearing silver pants, navy jerseys with white numbers and silver helmets, won the toss and deferred choice to the second half. So Central will start with the football going from south to north, which is my right to my left. We're about to get going.
UPDATED, 7:30 p.m.: We're still about 10 minutes from gametime here at Liberty. Central, wearing all-white with orange numbers and black helmets, are on the field warming up. Liberty, as is their custom under Tony Mills, are back in the locker room and will enter through their inflatable Patriot head just before gametime.
The Grizzlies have maybe a couple hundred fans who made the trip, decked out in orange and black as the second full moon of the month rises behind them, shaded just a tint of orange. Might that be a good sign for Central? We'll see. All I know is I'm looking forward to (finally) starting my 2012 football season with what should be a good game.
ORIGINAL POST: After some bundle of joy-related delays, the School House Zach live blog makes its 2012 debut tonight from Liberty, where the Patriots take on Fresno-Central in a huuuuge Division I battle. Tonight brings us a blue moon, so strange things might happen. Actually, the football weekend has already been somewhat strange: Garces had 10 players suspended for tonight's tilt with Golden Valley because of a violation of team rules, and last night, defending Division III state champion Washington Union was blitzed in its season opener, 56-8 by Atwater.
Keep it here all day for discussion and live score updates from around Kern County and the Central Section, and at 7 p.m., I'll fire up the live blog with a blow-by-blow of the action from Liberty.
After that, log on to bakersfieldcalifornian.com/sports to watch the weekly BVarsity Live show with Louis Amestoy and, when I'm not too busy, myself as hosts. We'll have scores from all of the night's action with analysis, and we'll take as many calls as we get. Call 661-395-7306 to be part of the show.
(All games 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted; Central Section ranking in parentheses)
Kern County scoreboard
(1) Bakersfield 44, Glendale (Ariz.)-Cactus 32 (Saturday)
(4) Fresno-Central 10, (7) Liberty 9
(6) Garces 77, Golden Valley 34
Lompoc 21, (10) Frontier 14
Stockton-St. Mary's 31, (13) Stockdale 26
(14) Ridgeview 28, Independence 14
(15) Wasco 49, Corcoran 0
(19) Tehachapi 22, Burroughs 15
(24) Centennial 44, Visalia-Redwood 21
South 50, Highland 7
Mira Monte 39, North 0
Porterville 36, West 28
Arvin 20, Foothill 19
Bakersfield Christian 21, Visalia-Central Valley Christian 0
Shafter 49, Porterville-Granite Hills 8
Coalinga 44, Taft 7
Delano 15, Chavez 0
Strathmore 35, Kennedy 14
California City 38, McFarland 0
Northwest Christian 38, Maricopa 2
Kern Valley 44, Mammoth Lakes-Mammoth 26
Yucca Valley 19, Rosamond 14
Frazier Mountain 40, Acton-Vasquez 12
Boron 61, Lynwood-Firebaugh 0
Desert 48, Lancaster-Desert Christian 13 (Saturday)
La Verne-Calvary Baptist 54, Immanuel Christian 18 (Saturday)
Other Central Section scores
El Toro-Lake Forest 30, (2) Clovis 10 (Saturday)
(3) Clovis North 35, (12) Visalia-El Diamante 21
Clovis-Buchanan 36, (5) Fresno-Bullard 14
(8) Fresno-Edison 26, Carson 21 (Saturday)
Atwater 56, (9) Fresno-Washington Union 8 (Thursday)
(11) Kingsburg 62, Visalia-Golden West 22 (Thursday)
(16) Dinuba 38, Reedley 17
(17) Tulare Union 33, Clovis East 32
Canyon Country-Canyon 56, (18) Clovis West 48 (Saturday)
(20) Tulare-Mission Oak 54, Hanford West 14
(21) Visalia-Mt. Whitney 59, Tulare Western 6
Fresno-Sunnyside 21, (22) Lemoore 0
(23) Mendota 22, Caruthers 17
(25) Sanger 28, Fresno-Hoover 7
Avenal 20, Hanford-Sierra Pacific 0 (Thursday)
Fowler 26, Firebaugh 20
Laton 54, Fresno Christian 6
Liberty-Madera Ranchos 47, Farmersville 6
Lindsay 34, Reedley-Immanuel 7
Madera 60, Fresno 0
Kerman 31, Madera South 20
Porterville-Monache 20, Hanford 19
Orange Cove 69, Riverdale 8
Orosi 36, Parlier 34
Selma 27, Fresno-McLane 26
Tollhouse-Sierra 45, O'Neals-Minarets 9
Exeter 48, Woodlake 6
San Andreas-Calaveras 54, Oakhurst-Yosemite 20
Modesto Christian 26, Chowchilla 7
Hilmar 35, Dos Palos 15
Le Grand 44, Tranquillity 12
Los Banos 47, Fresno-Roosevelt 21
Santa Maria-St. Joseph 44, Fresno-Memorial 3
Thousand Oaks-Hillcrest Christian 74, Alpaugh 6
Lemoore-Kings Christian 90, Monterey-Trinity Christian 72
Shandon 33, Coalinga-Faith Christian 31 (Saturday)