garces vs frontier

Former Garces quarterback Joseph Campbell (5) runs in for a touchdown during playoff action against Frontier in 2019. Despite a health scare that cost him a portion of his senior year, Campbell was able to land at FBS Fresno State as a preferred walk-on.

I'm afraid my roller coaster-riding days have long since passed. My body just doesn't seem to react well to all the latest drops, twists and turns.

I wouldn't say I'm relegated to "It's-a-Small-World" status, but …

In any case, for those that do enjoy an occasional thrill ride, I present to you the latest installment of the 2019 high school football season, Kern County edition.

Friday night's opening round of the Central Section playoffs had everything necessary to have your hair stand on end, or maybe just scratch your head trying to make sense of it all.

So in the spirit of all good roller coasters, here's a list of some of Friday's top games, inspired by actual rides and their location:

Great Bear (Hersheypark, Pa.) 

It all started in Shafter, where Arvin's 41-30 victory turned the local football community on its collective head. Few could have predicted a Bears victory over the Generals in Division V play. Arvin's up-and-down season included a stretch where they lost three of four, including a 43-22 loss to Shafter, the South Sequoia League co-champion.

Shafter (6-5) had been on a roll, shaking off a 1-4 start to win five straight games, and entered the playoffs as the No. 5 seed. Now No. 11 Arvin (6-5) will take a three-game win streak into Friday’s quarterfinal at No. 4 Strathmore.

Montezooma's Revenge (Knott's Berry Farm)

Paul Golla is now 5-1 in his coaching career in rematch games, following Garces' 37-7 victory over Frontier in Division II. After losing 40-35 to the Titans in the Southwest Yosemite League opener, the Rams (5-6) dominated the sequel (See more in Clay Cunningham's game story). Garces will now play at No. 1 Hanford.

Stampida (PortAdventura Park, Spain)

When talking about upsets you have to start with Stockdale after the Mustangs' stampede finished with a 34-24 victory over Santa Maria-Righetti.

No. 10 Stockdale (6-5) stumbled into the D-II playoffs having lost three straight. Its last victory? A dramatic 12-7 triumph over Centennial in Week 8, the same Golden Hawks team that the No. 7 Warriors beat 66-6 in Week 4. The Mustangs will play at No. 2 Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial this week.

Tigris (Busch Gardens, Fla.)

In Division IV, No. 10 Wasco (6-5) slipped past No. 7 East 14-13 in a rematch of last year’s opening-round matchup. The Tigers beat the Blades 33-13 in that game, the start of a run to the semifinals that included a 20-7 victory over top-seeded Porterville. This year, Wasco will have to beat No. 2 Strathmore on the road to advance that far.

The Boss (Six Flags St. Louis)

North High continued its perfect season with Richie Bolin as coach, posting a 28-21 victory over Kerman in the first round of the D-IV playoffs. The No. 8 Stars have won four straight since Bolin stepped in after head coach Norm Brown resigned following a Week 8 loss to Foothill. North (8-3) plays at No. 1 Fresno-Washington Union next week.

The Pony Express (Knott's Berry Farm)

Led by Tyson Reynolds and Bryan "Pony" Diaz, Foothill (5-6) has had plenty of firsts this year. That's particularly impressive considering the Trojans have played all their games on the road while its field is being renovated. Earlier this year, Foothill (5-6) snapped an 11-game losing streak with its first victory since the season finale in 2017. Now Foothill can add its first playoff win since 2011 to the list following a 37-20 victory over Minarets in D-VI action on Friday.

Five victories is also the most for the Trojans since they won six in 2011, and equals the combined win total for the previous five years. Foothill’s last playoff victory was a 13-10 overtime win over Delano on Nov. 18, 2011. The Trojans went 9-60 since heading into this season.

Foothill will play at No. 1 Bishop Union on Friday. On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 California City defeated McFarland 20-7 and will host No. 7 Hanford-Sierra Pacific.

Patriot (California's Great America), Screamin' Eagle (Six Flags St. Louis) and well … you get the idea

Following first-round byes, Liberty, Bakersfield Christian and Highland will join the dozen local first-round winners in Friday’s quarterfinals.

In D-I, the No. 3 Patriots will host No. 11 Clovis West, which defeated No. 6 Clovis North 34-14. In D-III, the No. 2 Eagles and No. 4 Scots will also have home games. BCHS plays No. 7 Lemoore, while Highland will square off against No. 5 Visalia-Golden West.

Desert Storm (Castles 'N' Coasters, Ariz.)

Top-seeded Mojave defeated No. 4 Lone Pine 49-6 and will play Riverdale Christian for the Central Section 8-man championship on Friday.

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