This is going to be an incredible night of football on Friday night.
After last week’s odd week of Thursday night games because of Veterans Day being observed with many top seeds receiving byes in the opening round, the docket is full and we even have semifinals this week in Division II and D-VI in the Central Section playoffs on Friday.
There was no change to the top 12 teams in the BVarsity Central Section rankings because those teams were either on a bye, or won with ease in the D-II quarterfinals (No. 2 Tulare Union and No. 8 Dinuba).
But the bottom of half of the rankings had a shake up after previous-ranked Independence suffered a home loss in the opening round of D-III to unranked Fresno and Frontier and Ridgeview both had their seasons come to an end in the opening rounds in D-I and D-II.
This week’s big game in Kern County is No. 7 Bakersfield at No. 5 Liberty in the D-I quarterfinals after the Patriots beat the Drillers 27-24 just two weeks ago in the regular season finale.
In order to get a chance to practice on Thanksgiving morning comes down to winning this week.
BVarsity Central Section Top 25
1. Fresno-Central (9-1, 5-0 TRAC, Division I, last week 1) - Central hasn’t been challenged in a game since Oct. 5. That’s a span of four games and five seek since Trent Tompkins used late game heroics with a last minute touchdown pass to beat Clovis-Buchanan 28-27. Since, the Grizzlies have cruised to wins over Clovis, Clovis North, Clovis East and even No. 2 seed and 3rd-ranked Clovis West. All of that can be a good or bad thing for Central and its opponent this in Fresno-Bullard, which beat Sanger in the opening round, 21-14.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 11 Fresno-Bullard
2. Tulare Union (11-0, 5-0 EYL, Division II, last week 2) - We will get more into the amazingness that is Tribe senior running back Kazmeir Allen. Will tell you this, he leads the nation with 53 rushing touchdowns and his 63 total scores this season is one shy of the state-record. Allen rushed for 434 yards and scored eight times in a 61-26 win over Fresno-Sunnyside in the quarterfinals last Thursday.That’s what is coming for Garces this week. The Tribe is undefeated and has scored at least 42 points in all 11 wins. However, none of those teams are as well-round as the Rams, but that may not matter against an offense as potent as Tulare Union.
LAST WEEK: beat Fresno-Sunnyside, 61-26. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 14 Garces
3. Clovis West (8-2, 4-1 TRAC, Division I, last week 3) - The Golden Eagles finished out the season as well as anyone in the section not Central or Tulare Union. Clovis West suffered a 40-13 loss to Central three weeks ago, but finished out the regular season winning eight of nine after a one-point loss to No. 5 Liberty on Aug. 25. The Golden Eagles have grown a lot and play a Clovis team this week in the D-I quarterfinals that outlasted Ridgeview 49-39 in the opening round.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 15 Clovis
4. Clovis-Buchanan (8-2, 3-2 TRAC, Division I, last week 4) - Buchanan earned the 3-seed in D-I thanks to a .800 win percentage and favorable coaches picks that allowed the Bears to relax and heal up heading into this week’s home game against a Fresno-Edison team that is playing with heavy hearts. In fact, the entire football community in the Central Valley is hurting after the sudden passing for Tony Perry, an Edison assistant and longtime advocate for young men in west Fresno. Many in the stands Friday night will be thinking about Perry, who passed away on Saturday.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 10 Fresno-Edison
5. Liberty (6-4, 5-0 SWYL, Division I, last week 5) - Obviously Bryan Nixon and his coaching staff wish there were more wins in September, but, here we are. The Patriots are coming off a bye and are winners of five straight, including beating this week’s opponent in No. 7 Bakersfield just two weeks ago 27-24 to clinch the Southwest Yosemite League title. Is this ideal to play the same team in consecutive games? No. But when the field is just 11 teams and these two are very much equals on the field, it makes sense. And, well, this will be the game of the week in D-I, hands down.
LAST WEEK: BYE . THIS WEEK: vs. No. 7 Bakersfield
6. Tulare Western (9-1, 4-1 EYL, Division III, last week 6) - The Mustangs suffered the first loss of the season at the hands of undefeated and No. 2-ranked Tulare Union. The loss didn’t take away the top-seed in D-III for Tulare Western, nor should it have. What was incredible in the loss was giving up 62 to the Tribe. In the other nine games, the Mustangs defense gave up just 58 points. Good luck to Madera this week knowing Tulare Western has been preparing two weeks to get back on the field wanting to shutout another opponent.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. Madera
7. Bakersfield (5-5, 3-2 SWYL, Division I, last week 7) - This about this: Only once since Paul Golla took over as the head coach at BHS have the Drillers finished with a losing record since 2005. That other time was just two years ago when the Drillers finished 5-6 after going 3-2 in the SWYL and lost at home to Fresno-Edison in the first round of the playoffs. This time around, BHS had a bye last week and will play at Liberty, which beat the Drillers 27-24 two weeks ago. For a team that is the defending D-I champions, this has been a roller coaster season and will be tested once again on the road this week in the quarterfinals.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: at No. 5 Liberty
8. Dinuba (10-1, 5-0 CSL, Division II, last week 8) - Dinuba might be the one team that has gone a little unnoticed and maybe a bit overlooked in the rankings this season. But the Emperors have been playing incredibly well and now are in position to avenge the lone loss this season to Tulare Union with a win over Visalia-El Diamante this week. As the 2-seed in D-II and the Tribe heavy favorites over Garces, that could very well happen in the D-II finals on Nov. 24.
LAST WEEK: beat Lemoore, 35-27. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 13 Visalia-El Diamante
9. Bakersfield Christian (9-1, 6-0 SSL, Division III, last week 9) - The Eagles haven’t been tested since Sept. 1 when BCHS lost 21-12 at Visalia-Central Valley Christian when standout quarterback Braden Wingle didn’t play until late in the second quarter and was not himself after suffering a knee injury the week prior. Since, BCHS has won eight consecutive while averaging 47 points a game to just 48 total points for the opposition in those eight games, including shutouts over Arvin, Taft, Kennedy and Chavez in South Sequoia League play. Kingsburg, though, is much better than any team BCHS has played in over a month, but, the Eagles are eager to defend the section title.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. Kingsburg
10. Fresno-Edison (7-4, 4-1 CMAC, Division I, last week 10) - You have to feel for Edison this week. The passing of assistant coach Tony Perry runs deeper than just players losing a coach. He was a father figure, the only one, for many of the players on this roster and around west Fresno. It’s not easy to concentrate on anything but that loss as teenagers, but, then again, that can be a driving force. Edison is at Buchanan this week in the D-I quarterfinals and will be playing for something more than just a football game, the Tigers will be playing for the man they all loved and respected.
LAST WEEK: beat Clovis North, 20-13. THIS WEEK: at No. 4 Clovis-Buchanan
11. Fresno-Bullard (6-5, 4-1 CMAC, Division I, last week 11)
LAST WEEK: beat No. 16 Sanger, 21-14. THIS WEEK: at No. 1 Fresno-Central
12. Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial (9-2, 3-2 CMAC, Division III, last week 12)
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. West
13. Visalia-El Diamante (8-3, 5-0 WYL, Division II, last week 14)
LAST WEEK: beat No. 25 Visalia-Redwood, 16-7. THIS WEEK: at No. 8 Dinuba
14. Garces (5-6, 4-1 SWYL, Division II, last week, 15)
LAST WEEK: beat No. 19 Frontier, 30-22. THIS WEEK: at No. 2 Tulare Union
15. Clovis (8-3, 3-2 TRAC, Division I, last week 17)
LAST WEEK: beat Ridgeview, 49-39. THIS WEEK: at No. 3 Clovis West
16. Sanger (8-3, 3-2 CMAC, Division I, last week 11)
LAST WEEK: lost to No. 11 Fresno-Bullard, 21-14. THIS WEEK: SEASON COMPLETE
17. Tehachapi (5-5, 4-1 SYL, Division III, last week, 22)
LAST WEEK: beat South, 34-8. THIS WEEK: vs. Fresno
18. Visalia-Golden West (8-2, 4-2 WYL, Division IV, last week 15)
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. Fresno-Roosevelt
19. Frontier (7-3, 2-3 SWYL, Division II, last week 16)
LAST WEEK: lost to No. 14 Garces, 30-22. THIS WEEK: SEASON COMPLETE
20. Ridgeview (6-5, 4-1 SYL, Division I, last week 18)
LAST WEEK: lost to No. 15 Clovis, 49-39. THIS WEEK: SEASON COMPLETE
21. Visalia-Central Valley Christian (8-2, 3-2 CSL, Division IV, last week 31)
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. Delano
23. Caruthers (9-0, 4-0 WSL, Division V, last week, NR)
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. Kennedy
24. Selma (8-2, 3-2 CSL, Division IV, last week, 24)
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: vs. North
25. Visalia-Redwood (5-6, 3-3 WYL, Division II, last week, 21)
LAST WEEK: lost to No. 13 Visalia-El Diamante, 16-7. THIS WEEK: SEASON COMPLETE
Dropped out: Independence
Next five: Kerman, Lemoore, Fresno-Sunnyside, Kingsburg, Independence