From big, bad Bakersfield, the state record-holder in section football titles, to mighty mouse Mendota, which can almost taste its first, top seeds for the Central Section were determined from Division I to VI Saturday.
"I told the team we need to be like a closer in the ninth inning and finish the job," Mendota coach Beto Mejia said.
No one in the 94-school section delivered a regular-season job like his Aztecs -- 10-0 while outscoring the opposition 494-78.
And, for that reason, they were a slam-dunk No. 1 seed in D-VI for section commissioner Jim Crichlow and his three assistants, who established the brackets in his Porterville office.
There were no major surprises among top seeds, which also went to Bakersfield (D-I), Garces (D-II), Dinuba (D-III), Washington (D-IV) and Firebaugh (D-V).
Defending champions are Clovis West (D-I), Tehachapi (D-II), Kingsburg (D-III), Washington (D-IV), Fowler (D-V) and Orange Cove (D-VI).
Divisions I through IV will play first-round games Friday and close with championships Dec. 9. Divisions IV and VI -- the smallest brackets, with eight and six teams, respectively -- will open with quarterfinals Friday and play title games Dec. 2.
Bakersfield (10-0), a 2,764-student school that has played football for more than 100 years, has won 34 section championships. The Drillers' last title came dramatically in 2007, when they scored 13 points in the final 9 minutes for a home-field 19-16 win over Clovis West.
Clovis West flies under the radar
That 2007 Clovis West team was easy to identify with a high-profile roster, featuring Beau Sweeney, Kyle Negrete and Travis Brown.
Clovis West's latest version is 3-7 with a slim roster -- as few as 27 players this season. But what does it matter now?
"Never know," said coach Mike Parsons, whose Golden Eagles shocked the section with a 29-27 upset of previously unbeaten Clovis on Friday night at Lamonica Stadium.
Consequently, a Clovis West team that considered eschewing the playoffs a few days ago not only is still standing, the eighth-seeded Eagles will open at home against No. 9 Centennial (5-4).
"Coming off a big win should be a good thing," said Parsons, who led Clovis West to a 12-1 record and its ninth D-I title last year in his first season at the school.
He also said Matt Smith, the Eagles' senior defensive back who was removed from Lamonica by ambulance in the first quarter, returned to his home later Friday night with a slight concussion. He's questionable for Centennial.
Clovis philosophy: Back to square 1
Clovis coach Rich Hammond was clearly depressed while reaching for positives Saturday.
"One game doesn't define a season or what you've done," he said. "Everyone's zero and zero in the playoff season, and you start over again."
The Cougars (9-1), denied only their third 10-0 regular season in school history and their first outright league title in 15 years, will receive a first-round bye in D-I with a No. 4 seed. They play at home Nov. 18 against Central (8-2), which lost 21-7 to Clovis in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, but wound up sharing the league crown.
County/Metro Athletic Conference champion Edison (9-1) is seeded second in D-I and on a semifinal collision course with No. 3 Bullard (8-2). The Tigers rallied to a 52-50 league win over the Knights Oct. 14 in a stirring league game at a packed McLane Stadium.
"I'm happy with our seeding," Edison coach Tim McDonald said. "Now we have to validate it."
Other division seeding highlights
D-II: Southeast Yosemite League champion Garces (9-1) was beaten at second-seeded Memorial 35-28 in September, but the Panthers (7-3) were stung for seeding purposes with a 35-22 loss to Sunnyside in the CMAC. Clovis North (6-3), coming out of the TRAC, is a dangerous No. 3 seed.
D-III: This presented the hot spot of the morning for Crichlow's crew, which gave Central Sequoia League winner Dinuba (10-0) the edge over South Yosemite League titlist Ridgeview (9-0). A 20-16 win on Sept. 16 against eventual West Yosemite League champion Hanford boosted Dinuba's resume.
D-IV: Washington (10-0) was a no-doubt No. 1, but the question came at No. 2, where Mission Oak (8-2) nipped Wasco (9-1). Mission Oak received a gold star for its 17-14 East Yosemite League upset two weeks ago of then-unbeaten Tulare, a D-I team.
D-V: Regular season-ending losses to Mendota and Dos Palos, as it turned out, didn't hurt Firebaugh (8-2) because of its season-opening 24-12 win over Fowler. The Redcats (8-2) are seeded second a year after winning the division.
D-VI: Farmersville (7-2) is seeded second behind Mendota, which will have a bye before playing at home against the winner of No. 4 Orange Cove (6-3) and Tranquillity (5-5). Mendota has defeated Orange Cove 43-7 and Tranquillity 60-20.
Check here for all the first-round matchups. Click on an individual game detail for the seed and division.
Week 10 rewind Chowchilla 20, Liberty-Madera Ranchos 13: Devin Gaines returned the opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown to get the Redskins (8-2, 4-1) off and running to a road victory that clinched second place in the North Sequoia League. DeVaughn Gaines' 15-yard scoring run made it 14-0 and Devin Gaines added a 20-yard touchdown in a night of 11 carries for 147 yards. The Hawks (4-6, 2-3) kept it close on a 1-yard touchdown run by A.J. Leon, who had 27 carries for 93 yards, and a 2-yard scoring burst by Brandon Hutchings. Yosemite 21, Sierra 17: The Badgers (4-6, 3-2) toppled the Chieftains (3-7, 1-4) in the 30th edition of the Mountain Bowl in Oakhurst. Yosemite's second straight win gives it a 17-13 lead in the series.
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