We're now five days away from the biggest date in the non-league season. Week 3 will bring with it a bunch of important games, both in the section (Clovis North at Frontier, Liberty at Buchanan, Stockdale at Clovis, Central at El Diamante) and out of it (Long Beach-Poly at Bakersfield, Crenshaw at Edison). We'll know a lot more about teams as they move towards league play by next weekend.
Right now, we're still somewhat in the dark about a lot of teams and especially with how they relate to one another. But Week 2 was another step. Here's what happened and what we learned.
Bakersfield 56, Garces 7: My goodness. I thought Garces would hang around for three quarters or so, but the Drillers only let that happen for one period before turning on the jets and racing away. Just like last week, when Bakersfield scored all five of its touchdowns against Wasco with plays of 20 yards or more, the Drillers feasted on the big play, scoring four first-half touchdowns of 45 yards or more. The onslaught started with Kevin Hayes' 76-yard punt return, continued with long TDs from Marcus Bruce and Jeremiah Reddick and ended with Asauni Rufus' 45-yard jaunt, the first of two scores for the senior quarterback. This was a total rout — Bakersfield only attempted two passes — and sets up the biggest intersectional game in Kern County in a long time: Next week, the Drillers welcome in Long Beach-Poly, which figures to be ranked in the state's top 10 after an upset of No. 2 Corona-Centennial on Friday. Buckle up, because that should be a track meet.
Clovis 28, Centennial 21: This result, only sealed when Centennial committed its fourth turnover, a fumble, inside the Clovis 30-yard line with less than two minutes left, reminds me of the Golden Hawks' overtime loss to the Cougars two years ago. That Centennial team, trying to replace Cody Kessler at quarterback, announced it was for real in a tight loss, and that's the case with this year's team, too. The Golden Hawks have improved tremendously since a Week 0 loss to San Joaquin Memorial, and they have to be considered a threat, maybe not to win the Southwest Yosemite League, but to put a scare into one of the favorites. Junior quarterback Andrew Hansen had a breakout game, passing for 231 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 102 yards and another score.
Moorpark 20, Frontier 7: For the second consecutive year, the Musketeers locked up on Frontier and held the Titans to a single touchdown. Evan Moore threw 35 passes and completed only 11, for a total of 115 yards. Three were intercepted. Frontier added just 83 yards on the ground, so a pretty good defensive effort was wasted. In fact, the Titans' only points came on a Troy Banks kickoff return for a touchdown. Back to the drawing board for Frontier, but there's really no harm done here. If the Titans can beat Clovis North next week, they'll be in great shape for a good Division I seed heading into SWYL play.
Stockdale 55, Inglewood 12: In many ways, this was exactly what a perfect double-wing game looks like. All three parts of the Mustangs' three-headed attack at running back surpassed 100 yards — Xavier Chisolm (188 yards), Adarius Rowel (148) and Anthony Wood (122). The offense controlled the clock and the scoreboard and the defense pinned its ears back and made Inglewood pay. That defense is going to be key for this team, because it can run the ball on just about anybody. It's a nice bounceback for Stockdale after a narrow loss to Stockton-St. Mary's two weeks ago. Now comes a big three-week stretch before SWYL play, with games against Division I contenders Clovis and Buchanan sandwiching a trip from defending Division II champion Garces.
Liberty 34, Tehachapi 0: It's surprising to say this, with a team that just won a 43-41 game and that has Bryan Nixon at coach and Josh Medina at quarterback, but Liberty has been a bit inconsistent at offense this year. That was never more obvious than in the first half Friday, when the Patriots led Tehachapi just 3-0. But things picked up quickly after the break, with Anthony Mariscal running for the bulk of his 132 yards and Medina doing most of his damage through the air as Liberty scored 28 third-quarter points and buried the Warriors. Medina was 11 of 13 for 195 yards. Efficient, as usual. Still no reason to think Liberty can't be unbeaten when Bakersfield comes in for a visit on Oct. 11.
South 43, Arvin 23: Kern County's only battle of unbeatens went to the Rebels, who showed once again they have one of the section's most exciting players in Kern County. Keith Evans caught one 45-yard touchdown pass (from Eddie Perez) and threw a 26-yard TD (to Tommy Castellon). South also got 115 yards on just 13 carries from Asonte Johnson, and two rushing touchdowns each from Ervin Holmes and Johnnie Dirden. The Rebels actually led this game 43-9 before Arvin tacked on a couple of garbage-time scores. Guess what, Ridgeview? Looks like you've got a challenger in the SYL race.
Independence 41, Lancaster-Eastside 35: Down two touchdowns early, the new-look Falcons rallied for a win over a 2-0 Eastside team. Chris Ellis returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and added a 49-yard rushing score to cut that early Eastside lead to 14-13, and the shootout was on from there. D.J. Reed had the other big plays, a 53-yard rushing touchdown and a 95-yard return of a blocked field goal. The Falcons don't have Preston Hodges anymore, and Brandon Robinson and Malcolm Johnson are making plays for Centennial now, but don't sleep on this team. There's still plenty of speed to spare.
Elsewhere... I mentioned in this space that Ridgeview's average margin of victory over Foothill since Dennis Manning left the Trojans for the Wolf Pack four years ago was 33-6. I even made that my pick for the game — and Ridgeview did it one better, winning 33-0 behind one passing and two rushing TDs from quarterback Lawrence White. ... Stanley Dubard returned from a thigh injury that forced him out of West's loss at Porterville and rushed for 149 yards and four touchdowns in a 33-20 Vikings victory over North. ... Andrew Dean rushed for 131 yards as Golden Valley rocked its running attack and defense (surprise!) in a 21-0 victory over Highland. The Scots returned Breaker Brannan to quarterback in the second half but still struggled on offense. ... East picked up its first win of the season, 32-12 over Mira Monte, behind three total touchdowns from quarterback Blake Sherman. ... Shafter blew a late lead in a 26-14 loss to Selma, and Taft lost big to a for-real Exeter team. With Wasco and Bakersfield Christian off, that left torch-carrying for the SSL to the Delano schools. They came through, with Chavez beating Strathmore 45-14 and Kennedy taking out McFarland 28-12.
Here's a replay of BVarsity Live from Friday night (in two parts):
And, finally, the biggest five games in a really big Week 3:
Long-Beach Poly (2-1) at Bakersfield (2-1): Winner will take up residence in the state's top 10
Clovis North (2-1) at Frontier (2-1): Not only a huge game for these teams' seeding, but more than any other game, this could decide how the entire TRAC and SWYL will be seeded against each other
Stockdale (1-1) at Clovis (2-1): Big test for the Mustangs. Clovis looks vulnerable but has owned Stockdale the past two seasons
Liberty (3-0) at Clovis-Buchanan (0-2): Can the Patriots go to 2-0 against the TRAC?
Ridgeview (2-1) at Newhall-Hart (2-0): Wolf Pack steps way up to play a state top 25 team