VISALIA--The 2017 season will go down in the annuals of North High football history as one of the program's best ever.
It was a truly memorable year for the Stars. However, unfortunately for North, it might want to forget the way things ended.
Central Valley Christian came out strong from the opening kickoff and claimed a dominating 57-16 Central Section Division IV semifinal victory over the visiting Stars.
The second-seeded Cavaliers scored a touchdown on the the game's opening drive and then extended their lead to 29-0 by the the time the first quarter ended.
CVC, which was firing on all cylinders offense and playing inspired defense, added a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to lead 43-0 at halftime.
That deficit proved to be much too large for the No. 6 Stars to overcome as they had their six-game winning streak snapped.
"We knew they were a quick, fast-starting team," North coach Norm Brown said. "We tried to get our kids prepared for that and I didn't do a good enough job of it. That's on me. It's not on the kids. They played hard for four quarters."
North (9-4) trailed 50-0 before finally getting on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter on Chris Romero's seven yard touchdown run.
Romero capped off a stellar season running the ball with 140 yards rushing on 30 carries.
He was one of the few bright spots for the Stars, who kept battling until the game ended despite the one-side nature of the game.
"We just came out slow," Romero said. "We thought we were prepared but, nope."
Even after the loss the eternally optimistic Brown remained upbeat.
"We had a great season, great year," Brown said. "...Our kids played hard. We're happy to be here. We met all our goals this year...There were only three teams in Bakersfield practicing on Thanksgiving and we were one of them."
The Cavaliers (10-2) sacked North quarterback Bailey West five times for negative 84 yards during the opening half.
The Stars offense mustered just 28 net yards and four first downs before intermission.
North turned the ball over twice during the game's first 20 minutes. Both turnovers were costly. A first-quarter interception thrown by West was returned 44 for a touchdown. Late in the second quarter CVC capitalized on a North fumble by moving the ball 27 yards, eventually scoring on a four-yard pass from J.J. Lino to Gavin Salierno.
The Stars were also hurt by big plays. Immediately after allowing CVC to grab the early 7-0 lead, West was called for intentional grounding trying to avoid taking a sack in the end zone.
The play earned the Cavaliers a safety. The parlayed that into more points when Jaalen Rening returned the ensuing free kick 65 yards for a touchdown, extending CVC's advantage to 15-0.
Three plays later West threw the pick-six.
"They made some mistakes and our kids were really prepared this week," CVC coach Mason Hughes said. "Pretty much everything they did our kids were ready for. And then we just made plays."
Lino didn't play at all in the second have but still finished 10 of 14 for 180 yards and three touchdowns passing